Artistic swimming developed by combining water acrobatics with music. Although the first contests were organised for men, artistic swimming later became more associated with women. After a number of demonstrations in the US in the early 20th century, the discipline grew in popularity and the first competitions were organised.
Brief overview of the rules
At the Olympic Games, the sport consists of two events: one in a duet, and another as part of a team of eight athletes. Each event includes two performances: a free routine and a technical routine. A panel of judges scores athletes’ execution and synchronisation, as well as the degree of difficulty, use of music and choreography. The athletes perform in a pool at least 3m deep, 25m long and 20m wide.
The swimmers need to propel themselves up out of the water to perform certain movements or pivot with the upper half of their bodies underwater. The discipline therefore requires great flexibility, power, attention to detail and coordination on the part of the athletes.
Artistic swimming became an Olympic discipline at the Los Angeles 1984 Games. It is, along with rhythmic gymnastics, one of just two women-only Olympic sports.
North American countries initially dominated artistic swimming, with the US and Canada accumulating 18 Olympic medals – i.e. half of all medals contested. Russia then became highly competitive on the Olympic scene, taking 18 of the titles on offer since the Sydney Games in 2000.
International federation : Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA)
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