Are you syncing with synchronized swimming?

January 4, 2011 — by Stanley Yip

With its dazzling acrobatics and incredible flexibility, gymnastics is clearly a sport, but what if it’s done underwater? According to freshman Isabel Malcolmson, a member of nationally ranked synchronized swimming team, “Santa Clara Aquamaids,” synchronized swimming is just like underwater gymnastics and should be considered a sport.

“People think [synchronized swimming] is just moving around,” Malcolmson said. “[Synchronized swimming is about] the ability to move gracefully in the water.”

Along with movement, muscle strength is also a key factor in synchronized swimming. Malcolmson said she does a lot of muscle strengthening exercises on top of practicing in the water for over 25 hours per week.

Like cheerleading, such strength conditioning is required for lifts, as synchronized swimmers are also in danger of injuries from unsuccessful mounts.

“When [synchronized swimmers] do [lifts], people can land on other people’s heads,” she said.

Synchronized swimming competitions are usually held in the summer, near the end of June, Malcolmson said.

“There’s not that many competitions but [the Santa Clara Aquamaids] go to a lot of out-of-the-country competitions, like in Peru or Italy,” she said.

The synchronized swimming teams are judged in several ways during competition.

“In individual judging, you do a certain move and [the judges] rank you out of ten,” she said. “My age group usually scores 8’s and 7’s.”

Another type of competitive swimming is a “swim-through,” or a performance, as a team.

“The judges score [the team] out of 100,” she said. “My age group usually scores around the 70s, while Olympic teams score in the 90s.”

While performing, Malcolmson said she has to hold her breath for around 20 seconds underwater while simultaneously doing a move. She said she can hold her breath for a minute to a minute and half without any movement involved.

To those who say it isn’t a sport, “Try holding your breath and doing these crazy moves underwater,” Malcolmson said.