Lalie Chassaigne

Gelatin in synchronised swimming: no love lost!

How do synchronised swimmers keep a perfectly styled, smooth and shiny hair-do, even after a ballet lasting several minutes?

How does their hair stay in place, even after dives, lifts and somersaults? 
Hairstyling in synchronised swimming is a combination of several factors: a tightly pulled ponytail, a multitude of hair clips, 
and, most importantly, handfuls of gelatin. Yes, that's what I said! Animal gelatin is what keeps synchronised swimmers' hair so shiny and perfectly styled.
You may be asking yourself many questions before your first competition or your first gala: How do I prepare it? How do I apply it? How do I remove it? 
Read this article to find out all the answers!

Where to find the gelatin 
for synchronised swimming 

Let's start at the beginning. You can find gelatin in the baking department of any supermarket
It is usually sold in the form of sheets or powder. After having tried out several types of gelatin, I can assure you that gelatin powder works best! 

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How to prepare your gelatin

It all starts off with your gelatin powder and some really hot water. And that's the reason why most teams turn up at competitions with a kettle! 
The right proportion is 50/50. the same amount of boiling water as gelatin! First put the gelatin, then the water, in a container, ideally a glass, and mix quickly to avoid lumps. Be careful, because it's really hot! 
The final texture should be neither too liquid nor too thick. The more liquid it is, the more the gelatin will tend to dissolve in the water; the thicker the mixture, the more difficult it will be to apply. Don't panic: you can always add gelatin or hot water to get the right mixture. 

How to apply the gelatin 
for synchronised swimming? 

This is the moment that many swimmers fear most. Putting on the gelatin. It's hot, it runs down your neck and, to tell the truth, it doesn't smell too good! 
Cover your shoulders with a towel or a gelatin scarf to prevent the gelatin from coming into contact with your skin, your swimsuit or your T-shirt.

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Step 1

For an ideal hold, apply the first coat of gelatin with a comb with closely spaced teeth. Dip your comb in the gelatin and get started! 
You do not need to apply very much. The important thing is to comb your hair thoroughly with the gelatin, so that it penetrates between the hairs and provides a firm hold. This also makes your hair very smooth and to pull any loose hair into your bun. We must not forget your bun! Obviously, you do not comb your bun, but you must still apply gelatin to it. Once you have covered your complete head of hair, quickly add your hair clips before it dries. To keep all your shorter hair in place, you should ideally form a crown of clips around your head. Form an X-shape with the clips so that they stay in place, and put them perpendicular to your hair. Let me explain. If you position the clips parallel to your hair, they will not stay on your head and they will not keep your hair in place. 

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Step 2

Once the clips are in place, dry the gelatin with a hair dryer to harden the first coat. Once the gelatin is nice and dry, repeat the operation with a brush. Any sort of brush will do, as long as it's clean! Or you can use the back of the comb. 
This second coat forms a shiny finish and helps to hold your hair and your bun firmly in place. The second coat can be slightly thicker than the first one. 

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Step 3

Last step: put on your headdress! Once everyone has agreed on how to position the headdress, put it on your head, put clips all around the headdress or 
bun-holder, still making sure that the clips are perpendicular to your hair! 
You must make sure that water cannot enter the headdress. This means that your headdress must be firmly attached to your head, so that it does not fall off during the ballet. 

And that's it. You are now ready to perform in complete peace of mind and without any hair in your eyes! 
A little tip to clean the glass containing the gelatin, if you have not used it all. Wait until the gelatin is dry! Once the gelatin is dry, just detach one corner from the glass and pull. The gelatin will come out in one piece!

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How to remove the gelatin 

After having taken so long to apply the gelatin, the time has now come to take it off! And this is not much fun... The best technique is to remove it quickly after your ballet. After several minutes in the water, the gelatin is quite soft and much easier to remove.

A tip from artistic swimming world champion, Virginie Dedieu.

 “Once I have finished my performance, I get back into the water to swim and relax my muscles. I then immediately start removing the gelatin with my fingernails!” Obviously, you can't leave lumps of gelatin floating in the pool. I put them in the gutter around the edge of the pool so that they do not bother the next swimmers!

The rest of the gelatin can be removed by taking a hot shower! Remove your headdress and all the clips, undo your bun and then wash your hair with shampoo! 
Sometimes, you have to wash your hair two or three times to get rid of all the gelatin. You can always use hair conditioner or a hair mask to take good care of your hair after day's competitive swimming! Every swimmer has found a little lump of gelatin in their hair the day after a competition at least once. 
About gelatin. Did you know? A word from our world champion, Virginie. Gelatin does not damage your hair. In fact, it nourishes your hair! 

Camille Adam

Camille adam

I started synchro at the age of 9. It was my mum who signed me up: I liked to do shows, I was super comfortable in the water, and fascinated by everything that glittered ... and it quickly became obvious that synchro swimming and me would last a long time! I love the type of efforts that this discipline demands. 
Stretching, holding your breath, moving around in every direction and every dimension, smiling, plus the teamwork. it's amazing how strong a team is! Helping each other, support, perseverance,
perfectionism, stress management. synchro has been my best school of life skills, whether as a swimmer or as a coach.