In-Water Cross-Training: Synchro
It’s harder than it looks, and it looks hard
Despite what it might look like, synchronized swimming is far from being all pretty dancing on the surface of the water. Synchronized swimmers have unique skills that could be useful to the average competitive swimmer. Competitive swimmers who have synchronized swimming backgrounds have said that synchronized swimming has given them a better feel for the water, which improved their competitive swimming ability. Maybe this sample synchro workout will open your eyes to their secrets.
Start with some dryland work. Typically, the first 30 minutes of a 90-minute synchro workout is spent on deck, half of it for stretching. Make sure to work the arms, the legs, and the core. Spend the second half of dryland on strength conditioning exercises. Mix it up with push-ups, sit-ups, wall sits, lunges, planks, bicycles, and dips. Now it’s time to jump in the water.
Start with a 500 choice swim. Then, practice floating both on your stomach and your back while trying to lie as flat as possible on the surface of the water.
Sculls and Eggbeater Kicks
Sculling and eggbeater kicks are two very useful skills for the synchronized swimmer. Eggbeater kick is seen in synchronized swimming as a pretty way to tread water. Due to its consistent nature, swimmers don’t bob up and down with an eggbeater kick. Strong sculling allows swimmers to lift their legs out of the water to create swan-like figures with their bodies. A typical routine is filled with a mixture of figures performed to music. Don’t worry, you won’t be expected to perform a routine on your first try.
Perform a consistent eggbeater kick for 5 minutes. Then, scull for 100 yards or meters on your stomach going head first down the lane. Then complete a 100 yards or meters sculling while lying on your back, again with your head leading. Lastly, complete 100 yards or meters of sculling while floating on back with your feet going first.
Four Figures for Beginners
Now it’s time to progress on to some basic synchro figures.
- Sailboat. Start by lying flat on your back on the surface of the water. Bring your right knee up toward the chest until the thigh is perpendicular to the body. From the knee down, the leg should be parallel to the surface. Hold this position then repeat with the left leg.
- Bathtub. Start by lying flat on your back. Now bring both knees toward the chest and hold. Similar to the sailboat figure, the thighs should be perpendicular to the surface while the shins should be parallel to the surface.
- Ballet. Start by lying flat on your back. Keeping your legs straight, bring the right leg up while pointing the toes toward the sky or ceiling and hold. Once again, the legs should be perpendicular to the body and the surface of the water. Repeat with the left leg, and for those who are more confident, repeat with both legs together.
- The boost. Time to shoot out of the water as high as you can. Start under water and without touching the bottom, prepare to spring. Propel head first out of the water by shooting your hands down and performing one huge breaststroke kick. Fall back into the water with a straight body and repeat.
Breath control is often tested in a synchronized swimming routine. As swimmers, we are all probably guilty of shying away from breath control, yet it is just as important in our races. The following set may help with breath control.
- 6 x 50 swimming 25 underwater and 25 sprint. The rest time should equal the time it takes for the swimmer immediately ahead to finish their under so that each swimmer is at opposite ends of the pool during the drill. If there are more than three people per lane, that interval should be cut in half.
Once you’ve completed these drills, it’s time to swim synchronized as a team. Get several swimmers organized into a box formation. For example, if you’re swimming with 15 others swimmers, you can form four lines of four swimmers each. Swimmers should begin eggbeater kicks as close to each other as possible without kicking one another. As a group, try moving around the pool without breaking formation. It’s harder than you might think!