THE COMPETITION

Artistic (Synchronised) Swimming involves swimmers performing figures to music. Despite the seemingly effortless performance this sport is quite demanding. Competitors, who usually train 7-8 hours a day, need strength and flexibility to perform twists and lifts as well as rhythm and flair to synchronise and interpret the music, which they can hear through underwater loudspeakers.

Routines may last from two to four minutes, depending on whether they compete in solo or team. Swimmers in solo, duet, team and mixed duet events are required to perform technical and/or free routines. Technical routines involve compulsory elements that must be executed in a specific order. Free routines have no requirements so swimmers can be ‘free’ in how creative they get with choreography and music. The Free Combination Routine is a combination of solo, duet, trio and team parts performed by no more than 10 swimmers. Highlights Routine as a new event were introduced to give space for numerous acrobatic movements and to provide entertainment by showing a float to give a kaleidoscopic effect.

Judges award points on a scale of 0.0-10.0 (in tenths). There are three 5-member panels of judges, with the first panel scoring execution and synchronisation, the second scoring artistic impression (choreography, music interpretation and manner of presentation) and the third scoring difficulty in free routines and required elements in technical routines. No athletes are permitted to touch the bottom of the pool during a routine, especially when lifting one another.

HISTORY

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 synchronised swimming in the minds of the public. The first competition was held back in 1891 in Berlin for Ladies, while a year later a similar contest was organised for Gentlemen in London. In those days the sport was called artistic swimming or water ballet – so the discipline just returned to its origins when it was renamed to artistic swimming a couple of years ago.

Then Hollywood discovered swimming champion Esther Williams, nicknamed ‘America’s Mermaid’ who helped popularising synchronised swimming through a series of hugely successful films in the 1940s and ’50s.

As a sport it came into existence in competitions held in the 70s. It became part of the programme immediately at the first World Championships in 1973 – LEN has organised a stand-alone European event in the next year, then, from 1977, it also became a regular discipline at the ‘big’ Europeans. Synchro made its debut at the Olympics in 1984, at the beginning solo and duet were in the spotlight, from 1996 the team event became the main attraction. In 2015 artistic swimming got a new boost when the males were also introduced to the sport on an elite level, the mixed duet was held for the first time at the Worlds in Kazan, and the first European titles were awarded in the following year in London.

THE BESTS IN EUROPE

It’s beyond doubt that in this sport the bests of our continent are also the bests in the world. The Russian artistic swimmers rule the pools since the 90s, today the situation is very simple: wherever they enter an event, they win it. The last time anyone bested them in duet dates back to 2001 (the Japanese came first in their home Worlds in Fukuoka). In solo the one and only Frenchwoman Virginie Dediu could finish ahead of her Russian rivals on three occasions, in 2007 for the last time. While no team could ever beat them since 1998 at World Championships or Olympics, while at the European Championships the last edition having seen other winner than the Russian team was in 1989. Here their unbeaten streak counts 16 championships – so far.

Today Ukraine can be regarded the No. 2 nation after the Russians but Spain also had some brilliant results from the past decade as well as the Italians and the Greeks. In the new event, the mixed duet, Russia’s Alexandr Maltsev and Italy’s Giorgio Minisini are the two best male artistic swimmers by all means.

THE DISCIPLINE IN HUNGARY

Hungary has managed to qualify twice in Duet events for the Olympic Games. Zsuzsa Hamori and Petra Marschalko competed in Sydney 2000, while Eszter Czekus and Szofi Kiss made the cut for London 2012. The best ever results at World Championships have been a 13th place in Solo, performed by Szofi Kiss and a 12th place in Free Combination with a team led by the former Head Coach, Natalia Tarasova

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Most successful nations at the LEN EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS in artistic swimming*

*Total medals won during the history of the LEN European Aquatics Championships (artistic/synchronized program has been part of the event since 1974)

0
RUS
0
ITA
0
ESP

*Total medals won during the history of the LEN European Aquatics Championships (artistic/synchronized program has been part of the event since 1974)

0
RUS
0
ITA
0
ESP