30 October 2023
Most artistic swimming clubs will accept children from the age of 6 or 7, though many will take on younger children if they already have swimming experience. Children don’t need to be able to swim already - artistic swimming lessons cover the basics of swimming and water safety. If your child is seriously considering the sport, and wants to aim to make the national team, then they should ideally have started no later than their 8th birthday. If your child is looking to take it up as a hobby rather than to compete nationally, then there is no upper age limit at all. As with most sports, it’s always a good idea to get in touch with your local club and ask directly.
It goes by many names, the most well-known being “synchronised swimming” (or “synchro”). Artistic swimming is a mix of dance, gymnastics and - of course - swimming. It’s athletics movements in the water, choreographed to music. Participants can perform solo, duet, and team routines in either technical or free categories. Technical is a style in which participants perform the same predetermined moves in order. Free is a style in which participants choose how they will make their routine including certain selected moves.
Children do not need to have done any swimming prior to starting artistic swimming lessons. It’s all about water confidence, so coaches and instructors will make sure that children know how to keep themselves in the water before teaching them anything too complicated.
The best way to get started is to look on the internet for a local artistic swimming club and get in touch. It could be worth searching for “synchronised swimming”, or “synchro” if you’re struggling to find one. Swim England, Swim Wales, Swim Ulster, and Scottish Swimming are good places to start. They are affiliated with many of the top artistic swimming events, organisations and clubs. They also run various “learn to swim” programs which actually include some artistic swimming sessions.
As they progress, children will need to work first through the Aquatics Skills Framework, which is designed to build the general skills needed for a range of aquatic sports, and then the Artistic Swimming Grades, which concentrate specifically on the skills required to take part in artistic swimming. These are run by the governing bodies of the region and country and your club will advise and explain them to you.
If your child is unsure, it can be a great idea to take them along to one of the many artistic swimming events that are run across the country each year. All UK countries hold championship competitions for elite level and open championships for club level. On top of that, local regions often hold their own championships and showcases, and clubs will either allow spectators on certain days. A good club will also hold a taster session at some point in the year that’s focussed on newcomers and gives a good all-round feel for what to expect in the sport.