What is artistic swimming? Why the name of the sport was changed from synchronized swimming – NBC Chicago
Olympic viewers who want to see synchronized swimming in Tokyo may have a hard time finding it.
That’s because it’s now called Artistic Swimming.
Long known as synchronized swimming, the sport renamed itself after the 2016 Rio Olympics. Most swimmers opposed the change, but the world governing body FINA said the new name would better illustrate what the sport is about and hopefully lead to greater popularity.
In 2020 the organization formerly known as USA Synchronized Swimming voted to change its name to USA Artistic Swimming as well.
Adam Andrasko, CEO of USA Artistic Swimming, said this change was part of a new era for the sport.
“As a global leader in the sport, we have recognized the need to adapt to the changes that FINA has made and we are proud to support the great work they are doing to advance our sport,” said Andrasko in a statement. “But that’s not the only reason for the change. The name change gives us an opportunity to show how the sport has evolved. Gone are the days of water ballet. This is where true athletics and artistry meet. We look forward to showing you how exciting artistic swimming can be. “
Long misunderstood and slandered as a foamy performance spectacle, the sport once known as synchronized swimming has quickly developed into one of the most physically demanding specialties at the Olympic Games, in which the athletes train for up to 10 hours a day.
So what does it take? The power and strength of weightlifters, the speed and lung capacity of long distance swimmers, the flexibility and skill of gymnasts, and the ability to harmonize perfectly with the music and with each other. And all while it looks simple – and without ever touching the bottom of the pool.
“Imagine sprinting underwater with chlorine in your eyes, holding your breath and trying to line up with seven of your other colleagues,” said Kim Davis, President of Artistic Swimming Australia.
In contrast to other swimming competitions at the Olympic Games, glasses are forbidden synchronously. And because art swimmers are also criticized for the presentation and eye contact with the judges (which is why they wear heavy eye make-up that emphasizes their facial expressions), they cannot emerge from the water and rub their eyes.
An increasing focus in recent years on making the exercises harder to get higher points has made the movements faster and the elevators higher, reducing the distance between swimmers from a few feet to a few inches.
The intensity of the exercises and the long distances that require swimmers to hold their breath have caused some athletes to pass out during performances.
The global swimming federation FINA warns in its evaluation manual that artful swimmers who hold their breath for more than 45 seconds risk hypoxia.
Although the sport is less focused on holding your breath than it used to be, swimmers still spend a significant portion of their performance beneath the surface of the water. The Australian team, for example, is underwater for a total of 2 minutes and 20 seconds of their 4-minute routine, says Thompson.
In June, the American swimmer Anita Alvarez briefly lost consciousness at the end of her duet during the Olympic qualification in Barcelona.
After coach Andrea Fuentes discovered that the 24-year-old was sliding under the surface of the water, she ripped off her mask and dived fully clothed into the pool to rescue her.
Alvarez, who has since undergone a number of medical tests, says she still doesn’t know exactly why she passed out that day. However, she suspects it was a mixture of physical and emotional exhaustion, as well as the specific movements at the end of the routine.
The sport began its Olympic competition this week with the first medals expected in Tokyo on August 4th.
The American duo Alvarez and Lindi Schroeder finished the competition on Monday with 86.5333 in 13th place.
The 22 teams will compete against each other in the preliminary rounds of the technical routine on Tuesday. The pairs with the top 12 combined scores will advance to the finals on Wednesday.