22 July 2017 during the World Championship in Budapest, World Governing body FINA (International Swimming Federation) has changed the sport discipline name from Synchronised swimming to Artistic swimming. The name change is part of a rebranding exercise designed to boost the popularity of the discipline and bring it in to line with similar events in other sports, such as gymnastics.
What is artistic swimming?
If you love to swim, like music and dance and are interested in gymnastics, then chances are you will love artistic swimming. It is a fun sport which combines all of these elements. It is a dynamically beautiful, yet physically demanding sport consisting of free and creative routines synchronized to music for solos, duets and teams of four or more, plus figures and technical routines which include required elements.
Athletes are not allowed to touch the bottom as they lift their teammates several feet into the air during “high-lights”. This sport is the very definition of teamwork, as eight athletes move as one to music, with split second precision and grace. With routines that are thrilling and beautiful to watch, synchronized swimming is always one of the most popular sports at the Summer Olympics and is gaining popularity around Australia. Not just for girls, males have been competing for decades with an official major international event established in 2015.
In order to excel, athletes must possess superb aquatic skills, be in top physical condition and have highly developed strength, endurance, breath control, flexibility and balance. Respect, cooperation, commitment and above all, good sportsmanship are core values instilled in all artistic swimmers.
History of Synchro
Annette Kellerman was a champion distance swimmer, diver, and experienced ballerina in the early 1900s. After making a name for herself in Australia, she moved to England where she impressed the world by swimming almost thirty miles down the River Thames and a few years later she performed in her shocking one piece swim suit underwater in a large glass tank at the New York Hippodrome. It became a landmark event for synchronized swimming and its quick rise in popularity.
Aqua shows became a popular form of entertainment from that point on and kept synchronized swimming in the minds of the public.
Then Hollywood discovered swimming champion Esther Williams, nicknamed “America’s Mermaid,” who helped popularize synchronized swimming through a series of hugely successfull films in the 1940s and ’50s.