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Synchronized Swimming Meet Etiquette

Whether you’re competing at the Olympic Games or the local scorers' meet, there are some un-posted yet understood rules you should follow around the pool. Knowing ahead of time what to expect will not only make you less nervous about the competition in general, but also save you from the scolding of a meet official or a dirty look from a more experienced competitor.

Learn the rules below so you can focus on swimming your best.

1. Put Your Bag in a Smart Place

When you get to the competition pool, don’t just pile your stuff around on the deck, or worse, put it all over the bleachers where your admiring fans would like to sit!

Instead, find an out-of-the-way place for your team to set up camp. You can keep your stuff all in one place, plus relax, snack, and get ready from one central location

2. Get In & Out on Time

At meets, warm-up is limited and can be hectic. To maximize warm-up time and minimize stress, be ready to dive in as soon as the referee gives the go-ahead

Getting in before your time will make the other teams upset and cause a scene (when the referee kicks you out of the pool)

Getting out when the warm-up is over is important too. If you don’t, the referee will likely call you out (and kick you out) over the loudspeaker. Plus, getting out on time will keep you on schedule for arriving on deck when you’re up next to compete

3. Don’t Walk around on Deck During Routines

It’s considered rude to walk around on the deck while people are performing their routines. It could be distracting, not only to the competitors, but to the judges as well

So wait to cross the deck from the time competitors start their walk-on until the music ends

4. Be Quiet during Figure Competition

Figure competition is taken very seriously by officials; the preferred ambiance is one of library-like reverence. If it starts to get too noisy for the judges’ or referees’ liking, they will let you know (and their level of irritation won’t go unnoticed either!)

Since the “callers” who check your competitor number and read your scores aloud during figure competition don’t have microphones, it has to be quiet enough (especially considering the echoes in an indoor pool) for them to be heard

5. Don’t Trample Other Swimmers in Warm-Up

Especially at smaller competitions, meet warm-up time can mean a lot of teams crammed into a 25x12m pool. Don’t let your nerves and adrenaline get in the way of being a respectful competitor by accidently swimming straight through the middle of another team’s pattern.

Hot Tip: When to Share

At some meets you will have extended practice with music time. It’s usually considered okay for other competitors to practice along the sides of the pool while another team has the music, but only if the pool is wide enough.

Sometimes the referee or meet manager will take matters into their own hands and assign each team a specific zone in the pool for a certain amount of time. This gives everyone a chance to rotate through and ensures equal amounts of deck and dive time.

6. Help Your Teammates

The pre-competition rituals of gelling your hair, putting on your competition suit, and applying enough makeup to survive total underwater submersion can take up a lot of time. So, be a good teammate: pin each other’s headpieces; make enough gel for at least a few more heads than your own; and slap some blue eye shadow on your friend who’s struggling to get the right look.

There’s a chance you’ll have some downtime during the meet. If you can, use that time to help out your teammates who are busy competing in other events. For example, help your friend pin on a headpiece if she made solo finals or bring over a snack if they are rushing between routines. Even something as small as hanging up a teammate’s soggy towel will be appreciated (and the favors will likely be reciprocated later on).

7. Keep a Professional Appearance

The way you wear your hair and team warm-ups will make an impression. If you show up looking tired with bed-head and your sweats hanging sloppily, it may seem like you don’t take the meet seriously.

How you present yourself can also impact your frame of mind. Looking well-prepared and professional will make you feel that way too—as opposed to feeling ready for a slumber party.

8. Remember Sportsmanship

When in doubt, just be a good sport. If you make a mistake and someone points it out, respond pleasantly and fix the problem. It’s just like getting a correction from your coach at the pool!

Treat the athletes that you’re competing against (including your own teammates) well because you know firsthand exactly how hard synchronized swimmers train. Without them, there would be no competition at all!

Congratulate others on success, and if you are disappointed with your own scores or results, gracefully control your reactions.

Soon It Will Be Second Nature

Competition culture can be intimidating, but you will eventually get the hang of it. And until you do, more experienced teammates and coaches will be there to help you all along the way. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or clarification on these sometimes unspoken rules of etiquette—no one minds being asked a question, but they will mind tripping over your bag or getting run over in warm-up.

Don't be the last to learn about the unwritten etiquette rules that will be expected of you at most synchronized swimming competitions.
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