Synchronised swimming or ‘synchro’ is basically a water ballet. Synchronised swimming a basic level can be done by little kids, just standing in the shallow end doing arm strokes, and floating but at an advanced level is very difficult and requires immense strength and breath control. It means any form of aquatic movement, performed by one or more swimmers with or without a musical accompaniment. It embraces various intricate patterns and exercise, executed gracefully with rhythm and precision. The known formations are floating, rhythm, formation swimming.
Like ice skating, it is held in two parts – set stunts followed by a free-routine section.
Synchronised swimming needs as much skill and art as gymnastics. The various movements. woven with precision, provide a lot of aesthetic appeal. It requires a good sense of balance, watermanship and coordination of muscles with mind. Swimmers are generally endowed with pliable muscles; it is more so with ‘synchro’ performers who, with complete control of their movements in water, are able to maneuver their bodies precisely without any rude jerks or visible expenditure of energy.
‘Synchro’ performer, an artist in water, not only possesses creative ability, but he/she has skill to display his/her prowess and self-expression to the delight of all present.
‘synchro’ swimming became competitive sport in Canada and the USA. The first National Championship was held in the USA in 1945. Ten years later, it acquired official status at the Pan American Games at Mexico City. In 1958, the first European International competition was held in Amsterdam in 1958.
Following unprecedented success at various international meet, the USA, Canada and European authorities mounted pressure on the International Olympic Committee(IOC) for recognition.
Eventually, synchronised swimming was accepted as an Olympic discipline. It is now one of the sought-after disciplines.
According to experts, dealy in recongnition was on account of sharply divided opinion whether it was a sport or an art. Many rules were made and discarded.Then changes in the competitive sphere were made to convince the authorities that it was a highly developed sport, backed by art and grace, as was in gymnastics.
The opposition, say experts, to ‘synchro’ was largely because of performers, at an early stages, wore elaborate and colourful costumes, heavy make-up on their persons and on the deck. In view of the protests, further changes were made and then performers, particularly women swimmers, began wearing simple costumes paying more attention to competitive aspect of the sport and skill than glamour, pomp, show and exhibitionism.
According to experts, there is a marked similarity in ‘synchro’ swimming with the art and subtleties of diving. This explains why many divers take to competitive ‘synchro’ swimming.
‘Synchro’ swimming is a combination of science and art. It requires hours of assiduous workout under competent and capable trainer to achieve rewarding result. The more the workout, the more you get.
To start with, what is needed is that the performer should be thoroughly at home in the water and should possess a sound grounding in basic watermanship.