12 Weird rules Synchronized Swimmers have to follow

Synchronized swimming has many names: water ballet, synchro, and for the 2020 Olympics; Artistic swimming. These smiling synchro swimmers make it look effortless, but it's one of the hardest sports out there, imagine dancing and doing flips while holding your breath. Synchronized swimmers need to have a ton of discipline which means, they have to follow a lot of strict rules in order to survive and even have a shot at the Olympics.

12. Swim and train for eight hours a day
Can you imagine holding your breath while swimming up, side, down for six hours a day, six days per week? Well, that's what it takes to be a synchronized swimmer at the Olympic level.
Swimmers will spend about six hours in the water and then work out for another two hours outside the water lifting weights, cross-training, running, and doing various other aerobic exercises to stay strong and fit.
Here's what a typical day looks like for a synchronized swimmer, they spend the first 30 minutes stretching and warming up, then they do strength training exercises like; push-ups, sit-ups, wall sits, lunges, bicycles planks, and dips. After that, they are ready to really start working out in the water. They start with a swim of their choice, When they are done with their initial swim, they practice floating on their stomachs and their backs making sure to practice lying as flat as possible on the surface of the water.

Do you know what egg beaters and sculls are? They're crucial water-treading exercises that allow the swimmers to float and glide through the water. After the water-treading, they do figures, these are graceful moves that they tie together to make routines. Swimmers have to be experts at sailboats, bathtubs, ballet, and the boost where they shoot out of the water as high as they can. these swimmers have to practice breath control after that, then they are finally ready to practice their formations and routines.
whoo, anyone else tired after that!

11. Ain't that a kick in the head
Did you know that more than half of synchronized-swimming competitors wind up with concussions from getting hit while kicked in the head during practices and performances? This has become a major problem in the sport. Managing director for sports medicine for the United States Olympic Committee Bill Moreau said that while on TV, the swimmers look like they are three feet apart, but in reality, there are only 12 to eight inches apart. While observing the team's, Moreau was prepared to see some spasms from being in the pool along with some respiratory conditions, but he was completely blown away to see that half of the teams were getting concussions.

These head injuries are becoming more concerning in recent years, the swimmers are trying to get more points by swimming closer together and performing riskier moves including throwing teammates up in the air. Often times swimmers are hesitant to report concussions because they are worried they will lose their spot on the team, these head injuries can take years to recover from.
Just ask Sarah Urke, a young swimmer who had her whole athletic career in front of her, she said "I was accidentally kicked on the head by one of my teammates and that day changed my life forever", not only did she miss half a year of high school, but she also had to kiss her dreams of one day being on the Olympic team goodbye. Sarah shared that she thinks a lot of people falsely believe that the water is not a dangerous place, she said that synchronized swimmers make it look pretty above the water but below, it's a battlefield.

10. No men allowed
if you're a fan of this sport on the Olympic level, you may have noticed this one important detail, there are no men in the pool. That's right, men are banned from competing in synchronized swimming in the Olympics. Men can still compete in their national or local competitions, but they are not allowed in the big competitive pools. Many male synchronized swimmers are working to be included in the Olympic Games.

This UK team has been fighting for a chance to compete in the Olympics since 2012, bill May won the world aquatic championships in Russia becoming the first man to ever win a gold medal in the sport, he has trained with American synchronized swimming choreographer Chris Carver for 23 years. Carver has coached many female world champions and Olympians, but even she won't be able to get him to the Olympics because of his gender. Instead, Bill has worked as a Cirque du Soleil performer in between defending his world aquatic championship, there are talks of adding male artistic swimming as an Olympic event but it won't be likely to happen until at least 2024.

9. Put horse cartilage in your hair
Ever wonder how synchronized swimmers keep their hair so neat and slicked back. Instead of the beauty aisle, swimmers take to the kitchen cupboards to help with their flawless hair, they use powdered gelatine called KNOX, it's the stuff they used to make jello. Team USA Olympians Maria Coraleva and Anita Alvarez shared with Vogue that the whole team uses this clear gelatine which mostly is used for cooking.
KNOX is responsible for making all the swimmers in the pool look like plastic haired dolls, it's so commonly used among the synchro athletes, they tweet about the struggles of getting it out of their hair after a competition. Apparently, once that stuff goes in the hair, it's very difficult to get out. Swimmer such tweeted that the absolute worst part of synchronized swimming is getting the gelatine out of your hair after. That's saying a lot given the high risk of concussions and kicks to the face.

8. Don't forget to breathe
Imagine running a sprint while plugging your nose and holding your breath, that's how Maria Coraleva describes what it's like to do a synchronized swimming routine, they have to physically exert themselves upside down while holding their breath on and off for about three and a half minutes. Maria said it can get pretty scary, she shared that a swimmer's mind and body can go completely numb, she said you can lose the ability to think because your brain isn't getting enough oxygen. While most synchro routines only require about a minute or so of consistent breath-holding, some swimmers have held their breath for up to three minutes, that's some superhuman amazingness right there. But as you might have guessed, this can be pretty dangerous.

There's a swimming term called shallow water blackout according to Swimming World magazine, a shallow water blackout is caused when oxygen levels in the brain get urgently low, carbon dioxide is usually even lower due to hyperventilation before ducking under the water. This is a lethal combination, the low level of carbon dioxide is what causes the problem, When carbon dioxide is low, your brain won't signal your body to come up for air. Once the oxygen is depleted, the swimmer faint underwater and drowns. Synchronized swimming is a lot more dangerous than we thought, right?

7. No touching the bottom
When you see synchro swimmers floating effortlessly in the pool lifting each other up or launching each other up into the air, it's easy to forget they're not touching the bottom of the pool. This is a strict rule in competitions, if they touch the bottom of the pool at any time during the routine, the judges will dock points. so keep that in mind, when you watch them catapult one another out of the water, that's all the power of the egg beater and scull moon as we talked about earlier. Okay, that's seriously impressive!

6. Play the right music at the right time
the International Swimming Federation or FINA is very strict about the music during a routine, so serious and fact that they will dock the team one point if the right song doesn't play at the right time. The team could do a perfect routine but if there is a problem with their music, they will get less than a perfect score.

5. Just keep swimming
No matter what happens, synchronized swimmers must be like Dory and just keep swimming. If anyone of the teammates stops swimming before they finish their performance, the whole team could be disqualified. That's pretty harsh but as we've learned, this sport is not for the weak.

4. Timing is everything
Synchronized swimmers have to time their routines right down to the second, they only have a 15-second leeway. According to swimming.org, swimmers will be penalized if they go over or under time by more than fifteen seconds of their specified time. And you may have noticed that many teams will begin their routines on the pool deck outside of the water, but they have to be careful there too. If they start on the pool deck, free routines can last no longer than 10 seconds and then all the swimmers on the team must jump in the water or they will lose points.

3. No bling
This rule is pretty simple but very important, swimmers are not allowed to wear jewelry during competitions or during practice. It makes a lot of sense, you wouldn't want to take an earring in the eye.

2. No goggles allowed
You've probably seen synchronized swimmers wearing those nose plugs which are a total necessity given their swimming upside down and flipping around in the water like dolphins. In fact, many swimmers keep an extra pair of nose Clips tucked in their suits in case they lose the first pair, Goggles, however, are strictly forbidden.
According to Great Britain's Olivia Federici, goggles block the artistic expression of the eyes, she says the eyes are a very powerful connection; it's how they portray the emotion of the music. It's important for the swimmers to look right at the judges to pull them into the routine, and it's kind of hard to do that with goggles on.

1. Smile
As you've probably figured out by now, synchronized swimming can be pretty stressful and hard on the body, but no matter what the swimmer is feeling, there is one thing she must always do. Every time she emerges from the water, she must do it with a big smile on her face. It doesn't matter if she just got kicked in the face below the surface, she better be smiling by the time she comes out of the water.

After learning about these strict rules, do you think synchronized swimming is the hardest water sport in the Olympics?