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From Swimming to Synchro

FROM SWIMMING TO SYNCHRO: WHAT CHANGES IN THE POOL DESIGN?

Are interested in building your aquatic facility to be inclusive to more programs? Have you ever considered synchronized swimming? As any other sport, synchronized swimming has its rulebook it must follow as does its facility for official competition. Oftentimes, a synchronized swimming event can be conducted in the same facility as a certified competitive swimming facility. There are design requirements to consider when building your aquatic facility to ensure it can accommodate synchronized swimming programs.

First, let’s look at some design elements in a synchronized swimming pool that closely align to what is seen in a competitive swimming pool.

Temperature: Like other competitive swimmers, synchronized swimmers want a cooler pool when competing. A pool that is too cold shocks the swimmer and tightens the muscles at a time when the synchronized swimmer needs to be limber to perform. Water temperatures that are too warm, however, create an environment where it is easy for the swimmer to overheat, become sluggish and expend excess energy. The ideal temperature for synchronized swimming routines ranges between 79 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lane Design: In synchronized swimming, there is no use of lane ropes. The standard lane width for your competition pool will suffice. Though, it is important to note the overall pool dimensions recommended for competition. 8 to 10 lanes wide is most common. If performing in a 10-lane wide pool, the outside lane on either side can separated with a lane line to delineate the field of play.

Gutter Design: There are no official rules that call out a specific gutter type for synchronized swimming. There is, however, a suggested maximum deck to water height on the deep end wall where swimmers walk out on deck to dive. The proximity of the pool deck and water surface allow a more hands on approach for synchronized swimming coaches and ease in hearing coaches during swim practice. With this and personal experience, partially recessed or deck level gutters are good options for gutter types.

Lighting: Lighting is important for the performers, judges, and spectators. Nonetheless, the same lighting for competition swimming is also recommended for a synchronized swimming event.

Spectator Seating: Elevated seating is ideal for spectating synchronized swimming. In fact, judges’ seating is elevated to give the best viewing of the whole swim routine. Providing spectator seating on the second level also provides a better atmosphere for fans to comfortably take in the events.

Natatorium: One aspect to consider that can easily be forgotten are the plethora of sounds a natatorium must endure. Sporting events tend to have high volumes from spectators, announcers, coaches, and athletes. In addition to these noise contributors, there is music to accompany routines in synchronized swimming. Just as designing for any sport natatorium, it would be advantageous to work with an engineer who will pay attention to wall material and shape to dampen acoustics, identify ideal speaker placement and other elements to help manage acoustics in the natatorium.

Depending on the rulebooks used for your pool, the addition for synchronized swimming can be very simple. Following are some design aspects that may differ from a competitive swimming pool.

Pool dimensions: Synchronized swimming is competed in a competition pool. For high level competition, Fédération internationale de natation (FINA) requires the pool have a minimum area of 12 meters by 25 meters.

Water Depths: In the sport of synchronized swimming, the swimmers are not allowed to touch the bottom of the pool; this includes blatantly using the bottom or even accidentally brushing the bottom. If the pool floor is too shallow, it becomes an obstacle for swimmers. There are many times in a routine when swimmers need to be fully submerged and vertical. There are also times in preparation for lifts when swimmers need to be fully submerged while their bodies are compacted yet stacked 2 to 3 bodies in height.  Because of this, it is important there are sufficient depths in the pool to avoid disqualification. FINA recommends a minimum deep end depth of 8 foot 2 inches and a minimum shallow end depth of 5 foot 9 inches for competition.

Deck Dimensions: Synchronized swimming does prefer a sufficient deck space of at least 6 feet surrounding entire pool with one end free from obstacles for team entry.

Facilities: Unlike any other athletes, synchronized swimmers apply gel on their heads to hold their hair in place as they perform in water. It is important to consider the amount of space needed for competitors to gel their hair and apply makeup, as well as space needed to change into swimsuits. Tip: You can’t have too many mirrors! Not only should changing rooms be considered but other multipurpose rooms serve for landdrilling (practicing routines on land) or stretching.

Ultimately, providing opportunity for synchronized swimming can be a great and easy way to add to the multipurpose programming of your aquatic facility.

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