ARTISTIC SWIMMING (SYNCHRO)
What is artistic swimming (synchro)?
artistic swimming is an Olympic sport that combines the athleticism of swimming with the dynamics of gymnastics and the grace of dance. Athletes showcase their skills to a choreographed routine in the water as a team, duet, or solo. Strength, flexibility, musicality, and synchronization shine through in every moment.
Why artistic swimming (synchro)?
This is a sport for kids who love swimming, dance, and gymnastics – or all of them! artistic swimming builds endurance, power, speed, flexibility, and grace. It also builds amazing team skills, a respect for practice and discipline, and everlasting friendships.
Why the Calgary Aquabelles?
The Calgary Aquabelles have a long-standing history of excellence in the sport – producing top level and well-rounded athletes. We offer programs from the pre-competitive to the national competition level. Fostering fun and friendships, swimmers learn skills together and support each other. We are a club of athletes that feels like one large family!
Without teammates artistic swimming is a solo sport. Athletes must communicate and work together for success.
The sport requires repetitive practice. Athletes learn the value of working to get it right. Athletes learn the value of diligence and persistence by working to get it right.
Artistic swimming (synchro) is a physically and mentally demanding sport. In and out of the pool athletes grow stronger each day.
You can’t move through a routine without focus, no different than taking a class or reading a book.
Nothing in life or the pool comes without persistent work to build endurance.
It takes a long time to build and perfect a routine. Athletes are committed to their teams the entire time.
A clear picture of goals and plan to work towards them happens on deck and in the pool.
Artistic swimming is a judged sport at the competitive level. When the swimmers have a bad day, they learn to that tomorrow is another day and pick it up and get back in the pool.
Not just when it comes to the splits, artistic swimmers need flexibility to face changes and the adaptability when the routine needs to be tweaked.
It takes a lot of guts to get in front of a crowd and show them what you can do!
The sparkly bathing suits are only part of the performance aspect. Athletes get to show off their smiles, confidence, and athleticism.
Once an athlete, always an athlete.
NOVICE COMPETITIVE PROVINCIAL STREAM
This program is the perfect for athletes competing for the first time at the Provincial Stream level. Similar to our Competitive Provincial Stream program, it allows first time competitive swimmers the ability to compete against others who are in their first year.
This program swims out of Inglewood Pool and is designed for swimmers ages 11 and older competing for the first time.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Joining any new sport or team can be overwhelming for parents and athletes alike. Let’s see if we can answer some of your burning questions:
What’s with the hair gel?
When swimmers are competing their hair is slicked back into a bun, topped with a decorative bun cover, and gelled to smoothness. The gel – a thick concentration of the gelatin from your kitchen – is spread on the hair to keep it all off the face during competitions. Without gel the hair comes out of even the best bun and falls in the athlete’s face.
Don’t worry if you are new to artistic swimming, parents who’ve done it before are always happy to offer a tutorial in time for competition season.
Does my kid need to have long enough hair for a bun?
Absolutely not! Teams can get creative with hairstyles and even short hair works in the water. Barring a shaved head though, you are still going to use gel in your hair!
What’s up with those sparkly bathing suits?
We won’t lie, one of the perks of this sport for many of the athletes are the competition bathing suits. At high competition levels they will be custom made for each athlete to accentuate the routine theme. For entry level competitors suits will be ordered for the team.
Do they arrive sparkly?
Unfortunately not. You will have to borrow or buy a special tool called a bejeweller (not a bedazzler) to heat set the crystals. The club orders the crystals for all the teams so you don’t have to figure out yourself how many you need.
Again, parents who’ve done a bathing suit or two will be happy to help you with a quick tutorial. And keep you company when you are bejewelling in the stands while your kid practices.
How many bathing suits will my kid need?
Aside from any training suits, each athlete needs at least 3 suits – a club suit, a plain black suit for figures, and a team competition suit. If your child has a solo or duet routine they will need competition suits for those routines as well.
Is there other club gear required?
To present our best at competitions athletes are required to have Calgary Aquabelles clothing. In Provincial Stream it starts with the basics that include t-shirts, a hoodie, bathing caps and a team jacket. Other gear like backpacks, crop pants, shorts, parkas, and gear bags, eventually become necessary as your swimmer progresses into the higher levels, especially if they move into the National Stream.
What are figures?
Each basic skill in artistic swimming is referred to as a Figure. Athletes master these basics and put them together – with music and choreography – to form their routine. As the athletes move up in age category the figures get
Do they compete at figures?
Yes, they do. Early in the season are some local figures meets. The athletes only compete at figures here. At almost all other competitions they will do figures and Routines.
During figures competitions all athletes wear black bathing suits and white caps. This makes them nearly indistinguishable from each other. That helps the judges score only on the merit of the figure performed, with little comparison. It does not, however, help parents watching in the stands!
Do all athletes compete at figures?
At the international and national levels the athletes now compete at Tech Routines. The teams are given a set of figures that must be placed in a routine in a precise order. But each team gets to choose the music they use and the exact choreography.
How are they scored?
There are a whole host of things the athletes are marked on. In figure competitions it can include height out of the water, extension of the legs, and actual performance of the figure.
In routine competitions the judges are marking execution of the routine, difficulty, and artistic merit.
Most competitions have two components that the swimmers compete on; figures/tech routine and free routine. A percentage of these two scores are combined to form a final Championship score.
All scoring is done on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being perfect.
Who are the judges?
Alberta Artistic Swimming and Canada Artistic Swimming have certification programs for judges. Each competition will only be judged by certified judges. Anyone can become a judge, if they take the appropriate courses. All judges are volunteers.
How are teams chosen?
The teams vary each year, primarily determined by age group. For the competitive programs the coaches start evaluations at Shape Camp in the pre-season and continue through the month of September. Teams will be made up of athletes of similar ages and skill level. It depends on the athletes each season.
Do teams stay the same all year?
Yes, they do. Learning the choreography of a routine is a long process. Perfecting the routine is even longer. Teams remain together to give the entire group the best chance for success. This is also why it is difficult to join a team partway through the year.
What are the age groups?
For the Provincial Stream competitive athletes the Calgary Aquabelles has teams for 10 & Under, 11 & 12, 13-15, and 16-18. Your athletes age category is determined by the age they turn in the competition year.
For example: If your athlete turns 11 in November 2019 they will compete as an 11 & 12 for this 2018/2019 season, not a 10 & Under.
At the National Stream there are three age categories: 13-15, Junior (16-18), and Senior (18+).
We only discovered artistic swimming and it is January!
May we suggest starting with one of our pre-competitive programs or summer camps then? It provides a great introduction to the sport and your athlete will be ready to dive right in come September.
What are the volunteer requirements?
No sports club can run without volunteer commitments. It takes the whole family to make the club work.
Each year the specific requirements may vary, depending on revenue, but the Calgary Aquabelles does have a bingo and casino commitment. For the 2018-2019 season each family has to work 2 bingos, minimum, and a casino shift. Additional bingos are available for those who want to work.
At each hosted competition Aquabelles parents are required to work volunteer shifts to help the meet run smoothly. These shifts can include hospitality suites, timing routines, calling out scores, or keeping swimmers sorted out.
There are also dedicated volunteer opportunities to sit on the Board, take on travel or fundraising coordination, or plan events.
What are the fundraising requirements?
There is no getting around the fact that pool rental time is expensive and the coaches do not work for free. The club runs a number of fundraisers throughout the year to defray the costs for both the club and athlete families.
Some fundraisers are mandatory – like swim-a-thon or raffles. Other fundraisers are voluntary and can include meat or chocolate orders, bottle drives, or a grocery card program. These voluntary fundraisers can reduce your monthly fees.
Can parents go to competitions?
Absolutely! In fact, female chaperones are required for each out of city meet. If you chaperone you are responsible for feeding the athletes, making sure they sleep, and arrive at the pool on time. Each chaperone is essentially a Mom away from home. If you do chaperone your expenses and the food expenses of the team are covered by the team contributions.
All parents and family are welcome at each and every meet, but travel responsibilities will be your own. There might be times where travel can be booked with the team, but the extra cost is the family’s responsibility.
You say it is a big family, is that really true?
Well, when you spend this much time together it is hard not to be! The Calgary Aquabelles like to get together outside of the pool too – there is more to life than swimming. Each year we participate or host a number of different activities:
– The Calgary Aquaboobies are swimmers, coaches, and family members who fundraise and participate in the CIBC Run for the Cure each year.
– Each year we have a parent/daughter swim. Parents can get in the water and have their kids teach them – or try to teach them – some fundamentals. Gelling buns for the parents highly encouraged.
– Barbeques and parties bring the club together so girls from all the teams can hang out and parents can catch up.
The athletes become very close throughout the year. Team events are organized by coaches and parents throughout the year. Sleepovers, dinners, movie nights, birthday parties, and more. The athletes often become close friends and the parents do too. It really becomes like family.
How many competitions are there?
For the Semi-Competitive group there is usually an opportunity to compete at 1-2 meets, usually local. The location depends on the overall schedule for Alberta Artistic Swimming each year.
For Provincial Stream athletes the club usually attends 2 figures competitions in early winter and 2-3 Provincial meets. These may be in Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Red Deer, Fort McMurray, or even Grande Prairie. The locations of the meets vary each year. Most Provincial teams will travel to one out of province meet as well.
For National Stream athletes there are 2-4 competitions, some local and some across the country.
Who pays for competitions?
For each competition there are entry fees and travel fees (if travel is required). These are billed to your account as the year goes on. The club takes every opportunity to minimize costs and maximize travel coordination. Each team also covers the expenses of their coach’s travel.
The Calgary Aquabelles offer many levels of programs at various facilities within Calgary and surrounding areas. Due to our varying pool locations and hours of training both in and out of the water, we would prefer you contact our Registrar at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details on our costs.
Our Registrar will also be able to walk you through other costs associated with being a member of the Calgary Aquabelles such as competitions, club clothing, bathing suits and mandatory fundraising. Don’t worry – we offer many fundraising opportunities to help offset some of these costs..