Artistic Swimming Explained

Artistic swimming is a hybrid form of swimming, gymnastics, and dance consisting of swimmers performing a synchronised routine of complex and dynamic underwater movements (known as figures) and arm movements in the water accompanied by music

Athletes need to be comfortable in the water and demonstrate outstanding fitness both in and out of the water. Artistic swimmers are known to be some of the fittest athletes in the world!

Imagine running a race but holding your breath while doing it. Athletes need to practice:

  • Swimming
  • Strength
  • Agility
  • Ballet/Dance choreography
  • Flexibility
  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Speed

These individual routines are called figures and are typically movements between one or more of the 19 basic artistic swimming positions. Most figures also involve the swimmer holding their legs out of the water.

Common Artistic Swimming Terminology Can Boys Compete in Artistic Swimmimng? Click here to view FINA’s Artistic Swimming Rules with diagrams of each position and figure.

Figures competitions and technical elements

Junior competitions hold figures competitions in which swimmers are judged on their execution of four pre-determined artistic swimming moves.

There is no music for figures competitions, and they are simply a case of how well the swimmer performs the movements. The scores from figures are then carried over and combined to free routine scores to determine overall rankings. In senior competitions, swimmers are required to perform certain combinations of figures, called elements. In a technical routine, part of a swimmer’s score is based on their performance of these elements.