Synchronized swimming competitions

Technical and free synchronised swimming routines

Want to find out how to get involved in synchronized swimming competition? We've got you covered. Competition in synchronized swimming is a female-only domain, with the two main events being the duet and team. As far as equipment goes, aside from the nose-clip, costume, greased back hair and copious amounts of make-up — there is little else required.

Synchronised swimmers have often been made figures of fun for their elaborate appearance, which may comes across as over-the-top on the television, but their efforts are aimed at the judges and poolside audiences — who will not see them at the same close quarters as the television audience. For Olympic competition, the pool is 20m by 30m, and 3m deep. The pool will always have a visible line on the bottom; this allows the swimmers to maintain their bearings.

Synchronised swimming competition

All routines are accompanied by music, which is pumped out by underwater speakers which allow the swimmers to hear the music clearly so they can get their split-second timing right and move in unison.

Competition consists of two elements and both are performed to music. They are the:

  • Technical routine — makes up 35 per cent of final score
  • Free routine — makes up 65 per cent of final score

Technical routine for synchronised swimmers


In the technical routine, swimmers can select their own music but must perform specific, required moves in a rigid order, which is set every four years by the Technical Synchronised Swimming Committee. Duets usually have to complete seven required moves, while teams must do eight. Routines must be completed within 10 seconds of their required times — 2 minutes and 20 seconds for the duet event, and 2 minutes and 50 seconds for the team event.

Free routine for synchronised swimmers


Teams and duets select their own movements and music for this part, with the aim to create a routine that has flair and creativity and uses different moods and tempos within the whole pool area. Free routines last four minutes for duets and five minutes in the team event.

In all routines, 10 seconds is allowed for deckwork, which is done before the swimmers enter the water. This is optional, and although it is not considered in the judging, it sets the tone for the whole routine.

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