Virginie Dedieu Vertical

Five tips on the vertical position in synchronised swimming

How to do a vertical in artistic swimming Champion Virginie Dedieu shares five tips on verticals.

Upside down, with your head underwater and your feet in the air, the vertical is one of the basic positions in synchronised swimming. Champion Virginie Dedieu shares five tips on 
how to perform a vertical without any problems. Description of the movement, technical tips and exercises… a full menu! 

What is a vertical
 in synchronised swimming?

Virginie Dedieu: The terms “vertical” refers to the position of the swimmer's body when in this position. They are upside down and completely submerged. Their feet are above the surface, pointing upwards. This is not a “balancing act” in the gymnastic sense of the term, because their hands are not pressing against the bottom of the pool. They paddle, or scull, with their forearms in order to stay underwater

In a vertical, the goal is to push your legs as high as possible above the surface of the water, while remaining perfectly vertical!

Virginie Dedieu Vertical
Virginie Dedieu Vertical

Tip number one: learn how to scull upside down

V.D.: As we have already seen, the arm movements form an integral part of the vertical position. This technique is called upside down sculling. This paddling movement enables swimmers to keep both legs in the air, out of the water. So it is essential to learn this technique.

To scull upside down: your back is straight and your bust pulled inwards. Your forearms are bent almost at a right angle. You then make a to-and-fro movement with your hands. Like a pair of scissors! And as fast as possible. Start in front of your sternum, and go as far as the sides of your body, while staying well aligned.

My tip: Keep your fingers squeezed tightly together. Your hands must be very solid and straight, and your shoulders close to your body.

View the tutorial on upside down sculling here!

Lalie Chassaigne Vertical

Tip number two: concentrate on your body

V.D.: While it is essential to produce enough pressure with your hands in the vertical position, the rest of your body is just as important. Think about working with your body, from tip to toe, by stretching and contracting, in other words by staying as straight and stiff as possible. This will be your best ally!

Explanations part by part:
1 - The head: Imagine that you want to pull your head as far down towards the bottom of the pool as possible.
2 - The pelvis: Tip your pelvis to avoid arching your back, with your buttocks too far rearwards.
3 - The legs: Keep your thigh muscles nice and taut.
4 - The feet: Press your feet inwards, so that they remain in touch to one another.
My tip: To add more power to your tips, imagine that you are trying to crush a pencil between your feet.

Virginie Dedieu Vertical

Tip number three: work on your oppositions

V.D.: To raise your legs as high as possible out of the water, while remaining vertical, spread the tension between the extremities of your body. 
Pretend that your body is being stretched by two opposing forces: one on your head and one on your feet. 
Working on these two opposing forces will help you to remain stable.

My tip: Imagine that you want to touch the ceiling with your feet and the bottom of the pool with your head.

Virginie Dedieu Vertical

Tip number four: practise buoyancy verticals

V.D.: You can start off by practising the vertical position afloat. Go to the vertical position, but do not move your hands. Working without moving your arms will help you to find your balance and stay vertical. Here's another tip: the more your hands work, the less vertical you will be.

My tip: By starting off in a buoyant vertical position, you will also see how far the water comes up your ankles. In this way, you will know how much further you need to go for the surface of the water to reach your thighs! 

Learning the vertical position

Tip number five: improve your breathing

V.D.: As well as building up your core muscles, working on verticals is also a great opportunity to improve your breathing. This is only logical. The longer you can hold your breath, the longer you can hold your position. And the more you practise, the longer you can hold your breath.

My tip: Before making your movement, check the second hand on the clock. Then try to beat your own record for holding your breath!

To begin with, the vertical position can be a real challenge. But don't worry. You'll get there, thanks to my tips and your perseverance.
And you can draw strength from your team! Every member of your team is there to support and guide you. Simply sharing this experience will help to improve your technique!
So what's your record? Tell us on the comments page ;)

Véronique Estrade

Véronique estrade

Yin yoga, hiking, cycling,… (OK, on an electric bike sometimes ;-) ): I prefer slow sports. My goal is to combine well-being, escape and leisure. I also find all the artistic disciplines quite marvellous. 
Maybe my 10 years of gym dancing can explain this!  But feeling the enthusiasm of the passionate athletes I meet is what I like most.