With this year’s FINA Artistic Swimming World Series just about to get underway, here are seven sporting insights to know going into the 2022 season.
Artistic Swimming Consists of Solo, Duet, Mixed Duet and Team Events
Whether it is the solo, duet, mixed duet or team event, there are two types of routines one can compete in – technical and free routines. A technical routine uses predetermined elements while in the free routine athletes are free to choose their choreography. Competitors can compete in either the technical or free routines – or both!
The routines are based on execution, elements, difficulty and overall artistic impression.
Sequins and Swimming Suits
Since the first days of artistic swimming (back then called synchronised swimming), competitors have been known not only for their jaw-dropping routines but also for their colourful and eye-catching competition attire. From rhinestones to Swarovski crystals to shiny sequins, the athletes enhance their flair and artistic impression scores by wearing ornately designed and decorated swimsuits. From Brazil competing in a carnival-inspired look to Greece rocking modern tuxedo tops at recent events, playing fashion police is a favoured pastime in artistic swimming.
Moves and Music
Artistic Swimming makes you feel something – just like music. The duets and teams often choose a routine theme and perform to the rhythm and mood of the musical track.
While the sport traces its roots to the start of the 1900s with Annette Kellerman performing artistic swimming routines in a glass tank at the Exhibition Aquarium, the combination of adding music to the sport’s moves goes back to the 1933 Chicago “Century of Progress” Fair. Here, the teacher Katherine Curtis had her students perform a water acrobatics routine set to music. The competitive aspect of the sport further developed when Frank Havlicek, one of Curtis’s students, drew up a set of rules.
Exciting and dynamic lifts are a highlight of the sport that get top marks from judges and fans alike when athletes pull them off flawlessly – especially when they launch out of the water and strike a pose.
Last year, the USA performed their ever-popular “Robots” routine that featured one of the most difficult lift landings ever. Yes, that’s artistic swimmers getting launched in the air and landing on the hands of their teammates. Fans loved the routine, making this the most-watched social media post across all FINA channels ever.
And remember, they do all this without touching the bottom of the pool! And if they do, their score will suffer 1 lost point if one competitor touches and 2 points lost if they did it to help a teammate.
Details, Details, Details
Alongside the showstopping lifts and jumps, keep an eye out for the finer movements of the sport. Accuracy and synchronicity are two keys to everything that happens throughout a routine – from the pool deck to the pool.
The four-leg 2022 World Series season gets underway this weekend (19-20 March). Considering athlete safety and potential travel restrictions around Covid-19, the tour’s first stop is a virtual one.
The competitors had their routines filmed at a local pool from 19-25 February 2022, which was immediately followed by two judging days. The broadcast and results have been held under lock-and-key since, with the leg 1 performances livestreamed to the public from 19-20 March.
From here, the World Series heads to Paris (FRA) from 1-3 April. A customary series stop, Paris will be held live – a preview of what’s to come in the French capital city in two years for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.