Rules and Regulations of Artistic Swimming

Gender Rules

Synchronized swimming, based on the huge majority alone, is mostly a woman’s sport. Men are not allowed to compete in the Olympics, World Championships, or any other FINA sanctioned events. However, many countries do allow men to participate in their national or local competitions. There are also a variety of international events, such as Opens, that permit male synchronized swimmers to compete alongside and against women.


There are many different events in synchro: solo, duet, trio, team, figures, and combination—plus a few new experimental events that only exist at the FINA Trophy Cup, like thematic routines and the synchro highlight routine. Both technical and free programs for solos, duets and teams are required for each event athletes enter when competing above the junior level.

The exact structure of a synchronized swimming meet depends on the level of competition and the governing body under which the meet is run. So time limits and routine types can vary greatly from one to the next. The larger or more globally inclusive the meet is, the more standard the rules. Also, not all events are held at every competition.

Technical and Free Routines

Technical routines are shorter than free routines and contain required technical elements that must be performed in a specific order. Choreography between the elements must be the same for all the swimmers. The one exception to the required uniformity is pattern changes. Free routines are always little longer than their technical counterparts and all of the choreography is left entirely up to choice.

Solo, Duet, Trio and Team Events

Solo is an event in which only one swimmer performs. What’s synchronized about that? It’s a lot like watching a figure skater. Soloists swim “synchronize with the music instead of their teammates.

In the duet and trio events, the focus of the synchronization is clearly between the swimmers. Two teammates perform together for a duet, three for a trio, four to eight for a team competition.


Figures is a unique, music-less event that takes the place of technical routines for athletes competing at or below the junior level. Each athlete, anonymously clad in a black suit and white cap, individually performs a series of compulsories for panels of judges. That score is then added to their routine score to make the composite score for rankings in each routine event.

Combination Routine

The combination routine, “combo for short, is a hybrid event. Ten swimmers participate in the routine, but in different combinations of groups throughout the performance. Sometimes all ten athletes swim, sometimes just one, and the particular groupings can change at any time during the routine. Swimmers not involved in a particular part of the routine eggbeater along the side and are not allowed to touch the side or bottom of the pool.