Discovering the incredible art of synchronized swimming

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SUSAN PAPA

SUSAN PAPA

Recently, I met my co-swimmer, Dr. Elizabeth Mas¬cardo, Ph.D. and she amazed me of her story about synchronized swimming.

Beth and I both went to the same high school, the Far Eastern University.

Beth said, “One must first learn to appreciate the beauty of fundamental swimming before one learns the art and science of synchronized swimming.

Synchro, as my fellow athletes and I refer to it for short, “is a multidisciplinary sport that involves intricate creativity, compelling originality, and the penultimate science of aquatics.”


It is a combination of swimming, diving, water polo, dance and gymnastics, consisting of swimmer (either solo, duets, trios, combos or teams) performing in a synchronized routine of moves and patterns in the water accompanied by music.”

Her passion for water sports started when she was a mere five-year-old mesmerized by the sight of women executing their ballet-like movement.

Beth would take note of every detail of her movement and realized that to swim, she had to make herself an integral part of the water, just like a fish.

Beth watching the SEA Games, ASEAN Games and Olympic Synchro swimmers perform their graceful and effortless strokes never stopped to amaze her.

She is so inspired by them that gradually she started educating Filipinos on the beauty of synchro.

It requires incredible poise, core strength, flexibility, breath control, split second timing, and endurance.

It began as “water ballet” in the late 19th century.

Later, it was introduced to the US by the glass tank performer Annette Kellerman.

The discipline was pioneered by Katherine Curtis, who fine-tuned the water aerobics.

Beth said, “There’s technique, and there’s the creative part.

First is the technical routine, where swimmers must precisely execute a required series of movements and positions.

Second is the free routine, where swimmers are free to create their own routine based on their experience. Swimmers can hear underwater through the high-tech underwater speakers,” Beth said further.

Beth explained that there are ten synchro judges; one panel assesses routine technicality, and the other artistic impression. Scores on a scale of 100 are awarded based on technical execution, choreography, synchronization, level of difficulty, music interpretation and manner of presentation.

The pool bottom is off-limits during performances.

Swimmers must continuously tread water in an eggbeater fashion to free up the arms and make the illusion that they are comfortable standing. No touching of the floor, if so a two-point deduction is given.

Synchro swimmers keep their eyes open even underwater to better navigate the sub surface elements of the routine.

Goggles are forbidden but nose clip are necessary to help with holding their breath.

String bikinis are not allowed.

International Swimming Federation (FINA) rules require that swimsuits be of “good moral taste.” It should not be transparent or skimpy and suit design typically complements the music selection.

“This is just the beginning. We firmly believe that Filipinos will excel in this discipline because we are extremely creative, flexible, has a dramatic flair and love for music.

With the continuous support from different clubs, we will gain success, not just for ourselves but more importantly, for our country,” Beth ended.

The Philippine Swimming League is ready to explore another sport discipline, the Synchro Swimming in 2016, for sure with Dr. Elizabeth Mascardo.

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