Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Emily from Scottsburg, IN. Emily Wonders, “How long can synchronize swimmers hold their breath?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Emily!
Many kids love to swim so much that they turn it into a sports career. Competitive swimming has been around since about the time that the first prehistoric peoples decided to race each other across a lake or stream.
If you've ever been to a swim meet, you already know that there are a variety of events featuring different strokes and various distances. But did you know that there's another type of competitive swimming that mixes swimming ability with dance and music?
If you're a fan of the summer Olympic Games, then you may have already guessed that we're talking about synchronized swimming. If you've never seen a synchronized swimming routine, just imagine performing graceful, acrobatic moves in the water in time to music while holding your breath and moving constantly for about five minutes.
If you want to be a synchronized swimmer, you're going to need to master many skills. You'll also need exceptionally strong muscles and the ability to hold your breath for long periods of time. Professional synchronized swimmers spend up to six hours each day practicing, both in the water and in the gym.
Advanced swimming skills are an obvious requirement, since routines are performed in the water. Synchronized swimmers also need dancing skills, because their movements are carefully choreographed to music.
The name "synchronized swimming" has caused some confusion over the years, because many people believe it means the swimmers must be in sync with each other. This is an easy mistake to make, since swimmers often perform similar movements.
The term "synchronized," however, actually refers to the fact that the swimmers must be in sync with the music. To clear up confusion, FINA, the world governing body that oversees the sport, officially changed its name to "artistic swimming" in 2017. Synchronized swimming is sometimes also called water ballet.
Synchronized swimming events take various forms depending upon the number of swimmers involved. There are solo, duet, team, and combination events with anywhere from one to 10 swimmers.
A variety of rules apply to the performances. Many people find it interesting that two of the main rules are that swimmers can't touch the bottom of the pool and, in most cases, can't wear goggles.
Forms of water acrobatics and artistic swimming have been around since ancient Rome. The sport really began in earnest at the start of the 20th century thanks to the efforts of several women who pushed the boundaries of water acrobatics, including Annette Kellerman, Katherine Curtis, and American movie star Esther Williams.
Synchronized swimming became an Olympic sport in 1984. Although men are allowed to compete in synchronized swimming events at lower-level competitions, the Olympic events remain limited to women only.