How to Do a Barracuda Thrust in Synchronized Swimming

The barracuda, or thrust, is a power move. It’s a chance to see how far you can rise above the water while upside-down, and the faster you unroll, the higher you get—so speed is key.

Once you learn how to do a barracuda, the possibilities are endless: If you can get out to your suit, why not try to rise up to your belly button? If you can do that, how about getting your ribs out of the water?

Here’s a step by step guide to the barracuda. The list of steps may be short, but the better you perform the techniques, the higher you will be able to rise up, and more impressive your performance will be.

Before You Get in The Pool…

  1. Sit on the deck with your legs extended in front of you in a pike position. Keep them together just like you would in the pool.
  2. Bend forward and get your body as close to your legs as possible.
  3. Now, gradually and slowly, lay down by unrolling your back onto the ground. Imagine rolling down one vertebra at a time until your shoulders and head finally rest on the ground.

Memorize the feel of rolling down, because you will use that exact same technique to do your barracuda in the water.

Follow these next steps, in the pool, to complete a barracuda:

Set It Up


  1. Start underwater in a back pike*hyperlink* position. Set up deep enough so that your toes are at least six inches below the surface.
  2. Squish up so that your body is as close to your legs as possible. Remember to keep your legs vertical. Your toes should point in the direction you want to go—up!
  3. Reach your hands up by your ankles, and scull with your palms facing the bottom.




  1. Scull yourself up to the surface.
  2. The second your toes come out of the water, start the unroll by pushing your hips up. With your hands, pull and then push the water up over your head (more on the hands later).
  3. Unroll your body underneath your legs, just like you did on the deck except faster. You’ve reached your peak height when your body is straight (vertical), and your hands have pressed as much water over your head as possible.


Sink Straight
  1. Once you have reached the highest part of your barracuda, use your arms to pull yourself down into the water.
  2. Keep your body vertical and your feet together until you’re all the way under.

Hot Tip: Ditch the Arm Circles

Synchronized swimmers often make the mistake of circling their arms back around behind their body to pull themselves down. Instead, keep your hands on a straight path out to the sides (and just a little bit in front) of your body as you sink under.


Arm Technique

Although a lot of the height of a barracuda relies on the unroll, your hands can also give you an extra boost of power.

Here’s how to make the most of your press. (It’s a good idea to try it on land first, too.)

  1. Start with your hands at your ankles in the set-up position. Reach them far enough past your ankles so they stick out behind you. At this point, you should only be sculling with your hands and wrists.
  2. As you start to unroll, and your legs come out of the water, pull your hands down by the sides of your legs to your hips. Next, take a big scoop of water in each hand by turning your finger tips in towards your waist while bringing your elbows forward. To reach your max height, push your hands all the way over your head with the palms facing the bottom.

Be a Barracuda

The barracuda thrust is one of the riskiest individual moves a synchro swimmer can do; the higher and faster you try to go, the harder it is to use the right technique and stay vertical.

But with practice, you can become more consistent and achieve a higher position. Eventually, you’ll be eager to add it to any and all of your routines as a demonstration of your strength.

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