How to Do a Split Rocket in Synchronized Swimming

The split rocket is both a fan favorite and an exciting rite of passage for all synchronized swimmers to learn. Regardless of what your team might call it—rocket split, split crash, or split rocket (among others)—the coveted skill is performed fast, high, and shows off your flexibility. It is a move every synchro swimmer strives to master.

Here’s a guide to a by-the-book split rocket. The beginning steps are the same as those for a thrust or barracuda.

Once you’ve nailed the original skill, try making creative variations when choreographing rockets for routines.

Set It Up

  • Start in a back pike position, underwater, about one foot from the surface.
  • Keep your legs vertical, and bring your body as close to your legs as possible. The more you have to unroll, the more power you will get from the thrust.
  • Scull by your ankles and reach your hands back, so they are past your legs with palms facing the bottom of the pool.


  1. Quickly scull to the surface to gain some upward momentum. These next steps should happen all within one count, or as fast as you can:
  2. Pelvic tilt, starting with your hips, and push your legs through the space between your hands and the surface.
  3. Unroll your body underneath your legs until you reach a vertical.
    • When your hips pass your hands, do your catch. Bring your hands though the support scull position, catching a scoop of water to gather more pressure, and press up.
    • Since the split is next (and must coincide with maximum height), save the last bit of your arm strength for pushing yourself at least a few inches higher out of the water. By the time you finish unrolling, your hands should be in line with your head, not all the way extended.
Hot Tip: Unroll Up, Not Down

When you begin to unroll, try to direct all movements in an upward direction. Seem obvious? Double check just in case:

  • Keep your hands just barely below the surface, and push your legs and hips up and past them. If you pull your hands down to your hips, you will cut off some height.
  • Keep your head shallow. Unrolling your body and head down underneath your legs will limit your height. Instead, try to leave your head shallow the whole time, and unroll your hips and body up above its location in the water. Imagine the potential!

The Split

  1. Split your legs fast, as if you're doing a quick stretching move. Imagine that there's a rubber band around your feet that you stretch out as you split.
  2. Reach your maximum split at the same time you reach your maximum height.
    • Use that little bit of arm power you saved from the end of the thrust to press all the way over your head.
    • Use your body too: Instead of pulling your legs down, push your body up through your legs as you split.


  1. Close to a vertical.
  2. Maintain as much height as possible by sculling, keeping pressure on your palms.
    • Stretching your legs up as you close them will help too.
  3. The more explosive and stretched you made your split, the snappier your join will be like a rubber band contracting.


  1. Get yourself underwater by pulling your hands down towards your sides. Keep your hands slightly in front (where you can see them in your peripheral vision) to avoid the common mistake of circling them behind you.
  2. The sink should be done just as fast as your unroll—so, very fast!


Wrap Up

Because the split rocket is a quick 5 step move, you can practice it by doing the whole thing every time, or by breaking it down and practicing each step separately. Either way, learning it will give you a great sense of achievement. Remember that height, speed, and a flat split are the goals. The sky’s the limit!

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