Synchronized swimming is a hybrid form of swimming, dance and gymnastics, consisting of swimmers (either solos, duets, trios, combos, or teams) performing a synchronized routine of elaborate moves in the water, accompanied by music. Although solos are not used in the Olympics, athletes training in clubs can do solos and compete in competitions. A recent addition to the Olympic repertoire is the event of mixed pairs, allowing men to compete with a female duet partner.
Synchronized swimming demands advanced water skills, and requires great strength, endurance, flexibility, grace, artistry and precise timing, as well as exceptional breath control when upside down underwater. During lifts, (where six people act as the platform, one person acts as a base, and one and/or two people act as flyers) swimmers are required not to touch the bottom - yet pull off an outstanding lift.
Olympic and World Championship competition is not open to men, but other international and national competitions allow male competitors. Both USA Synchro and Synchro Canada allow men to compete with women. – Most European countries allow men to compete also, France even allows male only podiums, according to the number of participants. In the past decade more men are becoming involved in the sport and a global biannual competition called Men's Cup has been steadily growing.
Competitors show off their strength, flexibility, and aerobic endurance required to perform difficult routines. Swimmers perform two routines for the judges, one technical and one free, as well as age group routines and figures.
Synchronized swimming is both an individual and team sport. Swimmers compete individually during figures, and then as a team during the routine. Figures are made up of a combination of skills and positions that often require control, strength, and flexibility. Swimmers are ranked individually for this part of the competition. The routine involves teamwork and synchronization. It is choreographed to music and often has a theme.