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Synchronized Swimming

Synchronized swimming, also known as water ballet or pattern swimming, is a hybrid form of swimming, dance and gymnastics. An exhibition swimming where the movements of one or more swimmers are synchronized with a musical accompaniment, it is called water ballet especially in theatrical situations.

This water sport developed in the United States in the 1930s. Today, in many parts of the world Synchronized swimming is an organized amateur sport under the general supervision of the Fédération Internationale de Natation Amateur (FINA; International Amateur Swimming Federation).

Synchro swimming or pattern swimming consists of swimmers which can be solos, duets, or teams made of four to eight persons. They perform a synchronized routine of elaborate moves in the water, accompanied by music. Demanding advanced water skills, Synchro swimming requires great strength, endurance, flexibility, grace, artistry and precise timing. Exceptional breath control when upside down underwater is a must for the swimmers.

Looking back in its history, Synchronized swimming started as an organized sport at the beginning of the 20th century. Margaret Sellers, a Canadian water polo player, developed the art of 'ornamental swimming'. It was a former gymnast Katherine Curtis who coined the term Synchronized swimming later to refer to her group of swimmers. By the turn of the 20th century, synchronized swimming was also known as Water Ballet. In 1891 in Berlin, the first recording of the competition took place. Many swim clubs were formed around that time. The love for this water sport spread to other countries like Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and the USA.

Synchro swimming for women was introduced in Olympics in 1984. Initially, the competitions consisted of solo and duet events. But both events were dropped at the 1996 Games in favor of a single eight-member team event. It was only in 2000 that the duet event returned to the Olympic program. Swimmers were judged on both compulsory and optional figures. Olympic and World Championship competition is not open to men. Some other international and national competitions allow male competitors. Competitors show off their strength, flexibility, and aerobic endurance required performing difficult routines. Swimmers perform two routines for the judges, one technical and one free. as well as age group routines and figures.

When performing in competitions, the participants are required to wear a rubber nose-clip and wear ear-plugs to keep the water out of their nose and ears. Hair is worn in a bun and kept in place by a flavorless gelatin, Knox. Heavy eye make-up is often worn to help portray the emotions involved .Competitors also wear custom swimsuits and headpieces, which are generally decorated elaborately. There are underwater speakers to ensure that swimmers can hear the music at all times. The overall performance and "artistic impression" are what the judges judge on. Marks are cut if the headpiece falls off any swimmer while he/she is swimming the routine.

Execution of strokes and transitions, difficulty, and synchronization help evaluate the performance technically. Points are deducted for touching the bottom of the pool, lack of fluidity, and missing required elements. Synchronized swimming routines can last from two and a half to five minutes depending on technical requirements and the number of swimmers. Solos are usually under three minutes. It is the ability of the swimmers to preserve the illusion of effortlessness while holding their breath for up to two minutes which make this water sport breathtaking and graceful.

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