The Northwest's Premier Artistic Swimming Team

Beginner's Guide to Synchro

Your first few figure competitions might seem a bit scary. You will naturally be feeling nervous about competing. Even the older, more experienced swimmers can have nerves, too! That is totally normal. This guide will give you a general understanding of what to expect so that you can have the best experience possible at your next synchro meet!

What to Wear

During figure competition, everyone is expected to wear a black suit and a white cap — nothing that could identify you with a certain club. The point is to make everyone seem anonymous so the judges don’t form any opinions based on which club you might be from. ​As for the goggles and nose clip, neutral colors are best. Pick a nose clip that’s close to your skin color, and go with gray, black, or clear goggles. If the meet is outdoors, consider mirrored goggles.

Order of Draw

Every competitor will be assigned a number that is chosen at random by a computer. The list of those numbers is called the “order of draw.” The meet manager will post the order of draw at various locations around the pool deck before competition begins. So make sure you check to see what number you are and remember it!

Two to four judging panels will be set up around the pool. You’ll recognize a panel as a row of chairs on the edge of the pool deck for the judges. Behind that row will usually be a table with a few more chairs behind it for the scorers. The panels are numbered one through four. One of each of the four figures will be performed in front of each panel.

The list of competitors will also be divided into four groups. The first person in each group will start at a different panel. Even if you aren’t number one, know that you might still go first at your panel! After finishing a figure, go to the next one in numerical order. For example, if you just finished a figure at panel two, go to panel three next. If you just finished at panel four, go to panel one.

When Your Number Is Up

Slip into the pool when there are still three or four swimmers ahead of you that still haven’t gone yet. There should also be someone called a "deck marshall" that will check to see what number you are and if you are at the right figure panel. Make sure to enter the water as quietly and calmly as possible.  Making a bunch of splash can be a distraction to the other swimmers, as well as the judges.

Wait on the wall quietly for your turn. After the swimmer in front of you has finished and is on their way to the side, you may eggbeater out. The caller will ask you to verify your draw number by saying something like, “Swimmer number 43?” If this is correct, nod yes.

Next, the caller will announce to you the name of the figure (even thought you probably already know which one you’re about to do). You may then start to layout.

Wait until you hear the center judge say, “Go,” before you begin. After you finish, sit up or come up gracefully. Breaststroke or eggbeater to the wall on the opposite side of the panel from where you lined up.

"Figure" It Out

Eventually, you will get the hang of how figure competitions are organized. Until then, don’t be afraid to ask your coach or synchro sister for help when you are feeling lost, nervous or confused. Soon you’ll be the one helping the newcomers find their way around the panels.