ARTSWIM 101: The Two Components of Competitions

Some of the competitions are figures only, some are routine only and some competitions include both figures and routines. When a competition includes both, points of figures and routine are combined (50% figures, 50% routine) for a championship mark, which is why figures and routine are equally important. Swimmers compete four figures at each competition that include figures. For Figure competitions, competitors wear plain black one-piece suit, white caps and clear or black goggles, all of which shall be devoid of identifying marks. There are two mandatory figures, which are performed at EVERY figure competition and optional groups that are drawn to make up the third and fourth figure. Each figure also has a difficulty mark. Each competitor is assigned a random number. The list of those numbers is called the “order of draw”. Four judging panels are set up around the pool and swimmers will rotate and perform in front of each panel.

Routines can be team, duet, solo or combo. Athletes must precisely execute a series of movements and positions which is set to music that the swimmers can hear underwater. It is judged for two parts: technical and artistic. Before every routine, swimmers have up to ten seconds for deckwork, or the choreographed movements that unfold poolside before the athletes elegantly enter the water. The pool bottom and sides of the pool are off-limits during performances. Touching the bottom results in a penalty. Goggles are forbidden for competitions: swimmers keep their eyes open even underwater to stay in patterns. Part of the fun of artistic swimming is competing in a sparkly decorated swimsuit matching the music theme.