synchronised swimming

Synchronised swimming: a sport for men or women?

Men's synchronised swimming. A combination that sometimes causes surprise. Because some have the image of synchronised swimming being an exclusively female discipline. But is that really the case?

Before we dive in at the deep end, we're going to take a quick look at men's artistic swimming with Margaux Caillier. A duet competitor at the 2016 European and 2017 World Masters Championships (duet and solo), she is now the leader of this sport at Decathlon. Let's start by defining this sporting practice.

synchronised swimming

1/ Artistic swimming? isn't it synchronised swimming?

Do you still hear people say "I do synchronised swimming"?  Possibly, but since 2017 it has actually been officially called artistic swimming and not synchronised swimming. So what is it? It is a sport that combines swimming, gymnastics and dance. And it's a full-body workout. Artistic swimming can be done solo, in a duet (like Margaux) or in a team.

When you spend many hours in a pool, you can even become addicted to the smell of chlorine—

Weird right? (don't worry if this isn't the case for you; you can get shower gels to banish the smell and "chlorine-free" pools are gradually making an appearance.) In any event, this is a discipline where teamwork really matters.

As a former synchronised swimmer, I'd like to answer one of the most frequently-asked questions: Yes, we can hear the music underwater—through special speakers. This is very useful so as to remain synchronised with both the music and your team-mates. Now imagine what it's like during training when everyone wants to put on their own playlist!

Now you know a little bit about the sport, let's go back to our first question.

Water dancing, synchronised swimming... is this a discipline that suits both men and women equally?

Let's compare with artistic skating: seeing men is no surprise and mixed-gender skating is used for choreographies. Why should artistic swimming be any different? Great stability in the water, power, creativity, breathing, flexibility and so on. The qualities required or developed can be met by both girls and boys, men and women. Just like any sport really.

In my team, we would have not been against having a male team-mate to help us achieve higher lifts ;).

Yannick is a swimmer in a trail-blazing male artistic swimming club: “Paris Aquatique”. When you ask him what he would tell a young boy about his sport, he answers:

"It's great fun to do, every training session is different. It's not just a show; it's a real sport. It instils core values such as sharing, friendliness, helping others and hard work.”

Thiago, Fabiano and Kennedy from the Rio Fluminense club swim with Margaux, Decathlon artistic swimming leader.
So, as you can see, when cinema raises the issue of gender in sport, we say well done! Have you ever

Many thanks to fabiano, thiago and kennedy for sharing their passion for the sport with us in brazil!

To follow synchronised swimming at Decathlon

3/ French championships, world championships... are there men's artistic swimming teams and competitions at all levels?

Even though Yannick's Paris club was set up around 20 years ago, only recently has the sport become more widespread and the swimming world kept up with the times. Over the past five years, we have seen more and more young boys in the clubs. In France, they make up around 200 out of 18,000 participants.

With a shortage of male competitors, prior to 2015 boys only had access to national competitions. Since the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, they can also participate in international competitions in the mixed duet. A move to encourage boys to turn to artistic swimming. European and World Championships, Olympic Games... don your swimsuits fellas, the swimming pools are waiting for you! 

These championships also saw the American Bill May be crowned world champion of this discipline in the duet (with his compatriot Christina Jones).

For swimmer Margaux Caillier: "mixed duets have brought with them a new way of swimming and great new experiences!" .

In the same vein, the FINA (International Swimming Federation) Technical Swimming Committee is currently working on updating the regulations for all disciplines, in order to open up swimming competitions. Because an official competition is always a big event, whether you are a male or female swimmer! These long-awaited changes should offer the mixed duet greater freedom from a choreographic point of view and appropriate scoring to go with it...

If you like the sound of this sport for you or your kids, you might be interested to know that there are nearly 300 clubs in France*... open to both girls and boys. So if you are inspired by Bathing Beauty and Annette Kellerman (who's that? Annette Kellerman, the first woman to participate in a swimming event in France, in 1905. She was even the first to wear a one-piece bathing suit), then there is surely a club not far from where you live that would be delighted to welcome you and/or your children!

*source: FFN, French Swimming Federation.

Discover the paris aquatique club

In 1998, Paris Aquatique swimmers performed a synchronised swimming duet for fun. It was an instant success and so they decided to set up a squad at the club. 20 years later, the squad is mixed—17 of the 45 swimmers are male—and takes part in competitions.

So, as you can see, when cinema raises the issue of gender in sport, we say well done!

Have you ever tried artistic swimming?

Please share your opinions in the comments (whether you are male or female)!

artistic swimming


Chlorine addict (swimming races & synchronised swimming), yoga student, one 10 km under my belt


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artistic swimming glossary


"After doing a ballet leg, the swimmers of the French team started forming to do a throw lift". If this sentence doesn't mean anything to you, check out our "synchro swimming" glossary to try to understand the swimmers' rich vocabulary a little more! Some of them even answered our call on Instagram to help us in producing the glossary. So you don't forget anything!