How to Blend in with the Synchronized Swimming Regulars
If you're just a young newbie, this guide is not for you. At age six, the more ruffles you have on your suit, the better! But if you're looking to move up in synchro and want to hang with a little more experienced crowd, there are a few things you should know.
Believe it or not, even the way you wear your swim cap can give you away. Here are some hints to wearing and choosing your gear like a pro.
When you put it on, the seam of your cap should run from the center of your forehead to the back of your neck—not from one ear to the other. Wear it so that it sits right about at your hairline. If your wear it too far back, your bangs will fall out of your cap, but placing it too far forward will pull on your eyebrows and bug you. Even worse, if you train outdoors, it could give you a nasty cap-tan line.
Also, it should be made of either silicone or latex. The Lycra caps are just not designed for the high amount of activity synchro requires (plus, they tend to stretch out and look like a soggy wet bag hanging from your head after a while).
The Nose Clip
There are only a few “cool kinds of nose clips (if it's even humanly possible to consider a nose clip cool).
First, it should not have any kind of string that would allow it to be attached to your suit. If you have a problem dropping it, just consider diving and hunting for it at the bottom of the pool as a little extra practice holding your breath.
Second, the nose clip should be as discreet as possible. Go with one that is small and skin colored so it's less obvious. If you can do so comfortably, try swimming without wearing one at all!
Virginie Dedieu, a French and international synchro star, was one of the first (if not the first) synchronized swimmer to perform without using a nose clip. She could actually block the water from going up her nose without blowing out any air or resorting to distracting facial contortions. Now, it's more common to see a few swimmers at every meet competing sans clip.
If you're really nervous about picking a suit, just go with a plain one. But many patterns and colors are acceptable, as long as suit has an athletic cut; in general, the more athletic the cut, the better.
Avoid suites with a “U-back since they have a tendency to fall off your shoulders if you're going to do much more than light water aerobics. Instead, choose a suit with straps that cross over or meet in between your shoulder blades.
Acting like a Regular
Once you've got the gear down and you're actually practicing, there a few etiquette rules to keep in mind. Eventually, they will become a natural part of your routine.
Synchro practice can sometimes feel more like play than work because you love the sport. But while it's important to have a good time, remember that practice is not exactly a pool party—bobbing up and down, splashing, or spitting water on your teammates won't go over well.
Be ready and on time to practice. Ask your coach what he or she expects. Some want you to be in the pool at the designated start time, especially if you only have a few hours to practice, not in the locker room still stuffing your hair into your cap.
Be Aware of Your Limbs
Excited new swimmers (and even experienced ones sometimes) have been known to flip upside-down and started flinging their legs around on a creative whim. And while inspiration is an important part of the sport, so is control—especially when your teammate's face is less than a foot away.
It's actually pretty common to bump into each other in the pool with all the eggbeatering and sculling going on, so usually people are fairly forgiving. Just be aware of exactly how close your friend's face is to your swinging arms and legs.
It Will Be Fine
This guide isn't meant to scare or worry you about the subculture of synchronized swimming. It's just a heads up for what to expect at the pool and how to mesh nicely with your new teammates.
Remember, everyone was a newbie at one point!