5 Ways to Impress Synchronized Swimming Judges
Judges evaluate synchronized swimmers’ mastery of a set list of skills and strengths. Each type of judge—technical and artistic—have a different list that assesses different aspects of the performance.
Since, eventually, their scores are all subjective, there are certain things you can do to give them an overall positive impression (which could potentially end up earning you an extra tenth or two).
Here are five ways any synchronized swimmer, regardless of ability, can improve upon their routine and impress the judges:
Traveling, in synchro terms, just means moving as you perform. Judges do evaluate how well your routine travels through the water, but there is another benefit to charging up, down and all around the length of the pool: Movement gives the appearance of strength and will show off your efficiency in the water.
That is why it’s important to travel during and between almost everything you do, whether you’re swimming underwater, doing a hybrid, or eggbeatering with two arms up out of the water.
Hot Tip: Too Much of a Good Thing
There is a point when trying to move quickly through the water will start to negatively affect the quality of your performance. If you can’t get as high or start to look frantic, slow down a bit.
Your height out of the water will have a big impact on your score. Soloists have won and lost competitions after taking risks on their power moves (like barracudas)—they are either rewarded for reaching an extraordinary height or deducted points if they end up tipping over.
Upside-down height is only half the battle though. How high you are in your eggbeater and jumps can have a lot of impact too.
Think about it this way: When you’re right-side up, if all the judges get to see is your neck and head out of the water, they’re only actually evaluating about ten percent of your body! You could understand how that might be boring.
The more of your body you can get out of the water, the better.
In synchronized swimming, extension usually refers to how pointed and curled your toes are and how straight, or slightly hyper-extended, your knees are. The fact is, a well-extended leg looks better doing just about anything than an unextended one even if the quality of the work is slightly lower.
Make your knee and foot extension a priority when you are a new, young synchro swimmer because it will only become harder to change as you get older.
Extension can also refer to how much stretch or reach you have in each movement. As mentioned before, the more of yourself you can get up and out of the water the better.
Reaching and extending though every move will not only help you get higher, but also make you look bigger and more impressive in the pool (as opposed to just a little head and arm poking up).
Nothing improves a routine like a little energy. Whether you’re swimming to music from the ballet Swan Lake or the fastest techno music around, you can make your routine look powerful simply by giving it 100-percent.
The combination of extension, reach and the speed with which you arrive at every new position will show how much energy you are putting into your performance. This becomes especially critical at the end of the routine when you’re feeling tired.
Just remember, a strong finish may sway the judge’s score in your favor.
Everyone always asks synchro swimmers, “Why do you guys smile so much?"
Hot Tip: Use the Mirror
Take ten minutes to experiment with your synchro performance smile in front of a mirror. You might feel dorky, but it’s better to get your nose clip-wearing smile down while you’re alone in front of the mirror than in front of an audience and judges.
It’s really all about looking comfortable and effortless in the water. That said, the smiling can go a little overboard sometimes which is why it’s important to practice your facial expressions regularly during training.
That way, you won’t forget to smile at the meet or become distracted while trying to add expression into your routine at the last minute. (You might also realize, a bit too late, that your smile doesn’t look quite how you imagined when you have your nose clip on.)
Do the Best You Can
When competing, it’s important to remember that scores are ultimately the subjective opinions of the judges. That makes it hard to know what to expect.
Take charge of the things that you can control: Train to be the best synchronized swimmer you can be and remember that the judges are your VIP audience members-- making them happy will only help your score.