Contact information: Sue Manners-Wood, Head coach | Cell: 0823311159 | Email:sue@manners.co.za

What is synchronised swimming? 

- Imagine performing gymnastics in the water to music                                 

- Imagine holding your breath for 30 seconds while running a 400m race                                                                                                            

- Imagine completing a triathlon in record time                                                                                                          

- Imagine jumping, spinning and performing figure skating moves in the water                                                                                                        

- Imagine a powerful waterpolo goalie jumping above the water to block a shot                                                                                                          

- Imagine lifting and/or throwing a 55kg swimmer above the water                                                                                                        

- Imagine a dancer whose musical interpretation and choreography captivates and entire audience...

OK? Now, when 2 or more swimmers achieve all this and combine it with intricate, split second movements in unison, the result is synchronised swimming

- How do synchronised swimmers train?

Besides demanding strength, endurance, flexibility, grace and artistry, synchro requires exceptional control and requires rigorous training:                             

- Top athletes train about 6 hours a day, usually 6 days a week                                                                                                         

- Synchro athletes usually reach their peak in their mid-20's, after training for about 14 years                                                                                           

- A typical training programme includes swimming workouts, weights (in and out of the water), cross-training, stretching and dancing. Many hours are spent practising skills and sculls and perfecting routines. Add some acrobatics and theatrical training to complete the training package!

- Staying Synchronised?

- There are special underwater speakers so that swimmers can hear the music and achieve the split-second timing critical to synchro                                   

- The swimmers count beats and perform precise movements to each beat. Hours are spent landdrilling in front of mirrors to get 100% synchronised and to ensure identical movements

- What is Involved in Competition?

- Competitions consist of solo, duet, trio, and team events

A panel of judges evaluates technical routines, which can be compared to the short programme in figure skating. In the technical routine the swimmers must perform a series of required elements within a set order and time limit. The judges assess technical ability and artisitic impression.

In the free routine, watch for incredible lifts and boosts, pattern formations and changes, spins and long periods of time spent underwater.

Synchronised swimming is a physically demanding sport and must be trained accordingly. Since synchronised swimming is "swimming", the best training is swimming. Swimming strengthens the muscles required for synchro and develops fitness, endurance and aerobic capacity. The following elements are covered during sessions: stretch, strength and conditioning, warm up, fitness, drills, figures and routines.

Barracudas synchro club trains at Virgin Active, Constantia, Cape Town, 6 days a week. Fees are calculated based on number of sessions attended per week.

- A History of Synchronised Swimming

Synchronised swimming has been around for quite a long time. As far back as 1890 men demonstrated "Scientific Ornamental Swimming" at Blackpool Tower.

By the early 1930s teams of ladies swam patterns in water which changed when a whistle was blown. Usually there was some background music.

Esther Williams did much to arouse interest in water ballet when she starred in several films, and musical swimming extravaganzas were in vogue for some time.

Synchronised swimming has changed a great deal since those early days and is comprised of increasingly complicated figures and taxing routines both solo, with partner and in a team of between four and eight swimmers.

"Synchro" has been an Olympic sport since 1984. Originally all three types of routine, solo, duet and team, were entered with a "knock out" round of figures to determine who should swim. However, in 1996 it was decided to make this a team and duet event with a maximum number of teams. These teams from all countries would have to qualify prior to the Olympic Games in order to participate. Other changes were introduced for 1996 Games, the figure competition was replaced by a "Technical Programme" in which a number of set moves were performed in a certain order. (This is rather similar to ice skating.)

A famous quote compares synchronised swimming with running 800 metres whislt holding your breath and trying to look effortless and graceful at the same time. Fortunately it is no longer necessary to smile all the time and facial expressions are determined by the type of music being used.