Understanding 
synchronised 
swimming competitions

Artistic swimming competitions include numerous trials, all of which are different. We reveal all!

Lalie Chassaigne competition

What with all the different categories, events, national and international competitions, we fully understand if you sometimes feel quite lost. 
First, international competitions are organised by the international swimming federation (FINA)
and domestic competitions are organised by the different domestic federations.

Artistic swimming events

As we have already mentioned, there are various artistic swimming trials: imposed figures, solos, duets (women or mixed), ballets (eight swimmers), combos
(ten swimmers) and highlights (ten swimmers). Apart from the imposed figures, the combo and the highlights, each event consists of two stages: the technical and free routines

Imposed figures are exactly what their name says. The swimmers perform a series of technical figures one by one in front of the judges. Currently, men are only accepted in mixed duets in international competitions. Solos, ballets, combos and highlights are for women only. 
The technical routines are shorter. The swimmers are judged on the technical figures that are performed in a specific order. In the free routines, the coaches and swimmers can give free rein to their creativity! The ballets in this event are longer and there are more artistic effects. The combo is a longer ballet, comprising solos, 
duets and sequences four to six or ten swimmers. The possibilities are unlimited! Highlights are the most breath-taking event. They are much shorter and comprise mainly lifts, which add more rhythm and can be very impressive. 

Ballets are always performed to music or a composition of pieces of music reflecting a given theme that matches the swimmers' swimsuits and hair styles
Every trial must last a given time. If this time is not reached or is exceeded, a penalty is applied to the team's final score. Penalties are also applied if the time spent dancing on the poolside before entering the water is too long, or if one of the swimmers touches the bottom or the side of the pool during the event. 
In international competitions and certain domestic competitions, a camera is installed on the bottom of the pool to check that the swimmers do not break the rules. 

Understanding synchronised swimming competitions

The grades

Like any athletes practising a sport governed by a swimming federation, young swimmers must take and pass the appropriate certificates. They then take the other grades in the course of time. 

Synchronised swimming is organised along the same lines as football and many other sports by age category: U9 (under 9), U12 (under 12), U15 (under 15), U18 (under 18), Allcomers (15 and over), and Seniors (19 and over). Grades are passed like the belts in judo. Except that the grade is not part of our clothing in synchronised swimming! In France, the three grades are called "Synchronats"

- Discovery grade: allows swimmers to take part in regional and second division national championships in the U12 and U15 categories
- Silver grade is a transitional grade for the U18 category. It authorises swimmers to take part in regional championships and second division national championships in the U15, U18, senior and Allcomers categories, and in the first division national championship and Elite championship for the U15 category.
- To reach the higher level, swimmers must pass the Gold grade. This allows them to take part in the national first division and Elite championships for the U18, senior and Allcomers categories. 

Have you followed? Don't worry if you were confused by the names of the championships. We'll come to that soon!
Without any grades, swimmers can compete in regional and national second division challenges, in almost all categories: U12, U15, U18 and senior. 
The grades are prepared right from the start of the season and are usually taken from December onwards, in several stages: 
- land trials
- technical propulsion - movements 
- technical - basic movements and figures corresponding to the grade

It is necessary to pass these three trials in the same sporting year for the grade to be awarded. 

French competitions

If swimmers compete in the federal circuit of competitions in France, the events are spread out through the entire sporting season. The competitive season kicks off with the winter events: the Autumn Days, the qualifying rounds for the French winter championships and the French winter championships. 
And then come the summer competitions: the regional and inter-region challenges, the regional championships, the inter-region championships, the French championships and the national final. These competitions are organised for the different categories - U12, U15, U18, senior/allcomers, in the various regions - Paris region, north-east, west, south-east, south-west - and sometimes involve several stages: a good result in the national second division can result in a qualification in the national first division, and then access to the Elite championships. 

Understanding synchronised swimming competitions
Understanding synchronised swimming competitions

International competitions

Let's start with the best known international competitions that have made artistic swimming famous. The European Championships and the World Championships take place on alternate years, at the same time as the swimming championships. These championships are usually the major challenges of the sporting year for the national teams, and enable them to prepare for the greatest sporting event of all that takes place every four years: the Olympic Games. Every athlete dreams of the Olympic Games, which are often the pinnacle of their careers, and synchronised swimmers are no exception! Unfortunately, male synchronised swimmers are not yet allowed to compete in the Olympic Games. But who knows, maybe in 2028? 
In 2017, the international swimming federation (FINA) decided to organise the FINA World Series to allow swimmers to prepare for the European Championships, the World Championships and the Olympic Games. This series brings together the events already organised by national federations on every continent under the same name. Countries are free to compete in these events or not. 

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 effort that this discipline requires: core strength, breathing control, being able to move in every direction and dimension, swim, smile ... and also obviously the collective side of things: 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.