What is synchronised swimming?

Synchronised swimming is comprised of two parts, 'Figures' (technical skills) and routines (swimming with music). The technical part of synchronised swimming consists of over a hundred different figures, as described in the regulation synchronised swimming of the Royal Dutch Swimming Association, KNZB. Routines is swimming in synch with suitable music and can be divided into solo, duet, team (4-8 girls) and free style combination (4-10 girls) in which the learned figures, parts of figures or combinations of these are incorporated. The free style combination is a composition of solo, duet, trio and team.

Gemma Mengual at the EC in 2006

Gemma Mengual at the EC in 2006
© R.Duppen

How did synchronised swimming evolve?

Synchronised swimming evolved from the so called 'trickswimming' which originated from the end of the 19th century. A intermediary phase was 'figure' swimming, later accompanied by music. In 1934, during the world exhibition in Chicago, synchronised swimming was demonstrated for the first time to the general public.

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Natalia Ishchenko at the EC in 2006
© R.Duppen

In Europe synchronised swimming became popular after the second world war, during which the clubs Z.A.R and De Meeuwen from Amsterdam can be seen as pioneers. The international swimming federation FINA, officially acknowledged synchronised swimming as a sport in 1956. The first official world championships were held in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in 1973. The first official European Championships were held at the Sloterparkbad in Amsterdam in 1974. Since 1984 synchronised swimming is an Olympic sport. Leading countries currently are the United States of America, Canada, China and Japan en within Europe the Russian Federation, Italy, France and Spain. The Netherlands is at the moment closing the gap with the second tier countries in Europe and world wide. As such a National team (duet, tam, combination) competed in 2009 and 1012 in the world championships in Rome, Italy and Shanghai, China. The National duet composed of Nicolien Wellen and Elisabeth Sneeuw are currently training hard to realise their Olympic dream during the 2012 games in London. Furthermore the junior team is gearing up for an optimal performance in all disciplines at the world junior championships in September 2012 in Greece

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Team Russia at the EC 2006 - © R.Duppen

At De Dolfijn, Margot's club, it has been possible to participate in synchronised swimming since 1976. In those 30 years De Dolfijn has evolved into one of the top teams in the Netherlands, many times members of De Dolfijn became Dutch champion in solo, duet or team, furthermore many members of De Dolfijn were selected to represent the Netherlands in a National team.