Synchronized swimming judging and points scoring

Points scoring in synchronised swimming

Synchronised swimming has a unique points scoring and judging system which can seem confusing to beginners. We've created this quick guide that will tell you all you need to know about scoring in the sport so that you're fully aware of how to get the best possible marks before you take to the water.

Judging a swimming competition

The judging for synchronised swimming resembles the judging for figure skating, with two panels of five judges
one panel assessing technical merit and the other assessing artistic impression.

Each judge awards a mark out of a possible 10, with scores registered in tenths of a point.

Synchronised swimming judging

Technical merit swimmingrefers to the level of excellence demonstrated by the synchronised swimmers in three areas:

  • Executionhow well the skill was carried out.
  • Synchronisationhow in-time with one another the swimmers are.
  • Difficultyhow difficult the attempted skills were.

Artistic impression of swimmingrefers to the overall look and feel of a synchronised swimming routine and is marked in three areas:

  • Choreographyhow varied, smooth and creative a routine is, covering the whole pool area.
  • Music interpretationhow the mood and dynamics of the music complement the performance.
  • Manner of presentationhow well the overall performance is put across.

Scoring of synchronised swimmers


Working out the overall scores after the judges have given their marks can be a baffling ordeal to the newcomer, and not surprisingly a specially designed computer program is usually used work out the scores. If you really are keen and want to work out how it is done, then hold on tight and all will be explained.

The synchronised swimming scores are worked out as follows:

  • The highest and lowest scores within each group (technical merit and artistic impression) of five judges are discarded, and the remaining three for each group are averaged out.
  • The average score for technical merit is multiplied by six (since it is worth 60 per cent).
  • The artistic impression score is multiplied by only four (since it is worth 40 per cent).
  • The total of those two numbers (technical merit score and artistic impression score) equals the overall for that one routine.

  • Determining the overall winner is done by two routines scores (technical and free routine), being weighted at 35 and 65 per cent respectively, so that the free routine is of greater importance.
  • The technical-routine score is multiplied by 0.35.
  • The free-routine score is multiplied by 0.65.
  • The two figures added together finally give the absolute overall score!

Penalties for synchrnonised swimmers

In both technical and free routines, synchronised swimmers have to be careful to stay within the rules, so as not to lose points by being penalized.

Offences can cost either: two points, one point or even half a pointbut at worst can lead to disqualification.

Examples include:

  • Voluntarily stopping during a routine (disqualification).
  • Deliberately touching the bottom of the pool (two points).
  • Missing the time limits on deck-work or routines (one point).
  • Omitting a required element from a technical routine (half a point).

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