Sculls and Lifts: Basic Synchronized Swimming Skills
One of the five aquatic sports currently being supervised by the
International Swimming Federation (FINA) is synchronized swimming. This
sport combines swimming with gymnastics and ballet. Accompanied by music,
synchronized swimmers perform a sequence of complex moves.
Performers in a competition are judged based on three criteria:
difficulty of every movement; satisfactory execution and synchronization
of routine; and the ease projected by the swimmers while performing the
Obviously, synchronized swimmers are no ordinary swimmers; they ought to
possess grace, flexibility, artistry, perfect timing, endurance, and
power all at once. Also, competitors need to have superior breath
control, which is especially important while performing underwater upside
Overall, competitors need to have advanced water skills. Specifically in
synchronized swimming, several sets of basic skills are used. Two of
these are the various forms of sculls and the different types of lifts.
The following notes describe how each of these basic skills is performed:
Ordinarily, sculls are oars used to propel a boat forward. Thus in
synchronized swimming, sculls are hand movements used to propel the body.
It is impossible to perform synchronized swimming sans the different
sculls that include foot-first, head-first, barrel, split, thrust,
paddle, and support.
The latter is used to support the body during an upside down routine. In
this skill, the upper arms are held against the sides of the body, while
the lower arms - which are moved back and forth - are angled 90 degrees
to the body. This causes some pressure to work against the hands which,
in turn, enables the swimmers to hold their legs above water while
performing their routine.
These skills are used to propel teammates out of the water. The three
different types of lift are platform, stack, and throw.
In the platform type of lift, one of the members of the team prepares in
a back layout position; another member (the one to be lifted out of the
water) then stands on top of the one lying down. The rest of the team
lift the "platform" out of the water using a technique called
"eggbeater". In this technique, swimmers momentarily propel their bodies
out of the water with the use of their legs.
The stack lift is a sort of an improvement of the platform type. It is
made up of the member to be lifted (called the "flyer"), the pushers or
lifters, and the base (not lying down, but in a squatting position this
time). This results in a higher lift because both the flyer and the base
are able to extend their legs.
The throw is considered the most difficult among all the types of lift.
Its setup is similar to that of the stack lift. On reaching the lift's
peak, the flyer performs acrobatic movements.
Synchronized swimming is usually performed in duets or teams, but may
also be performed individually. Depending on the rules and the technical
requirements of a competition, a routine can last from 2 to 5 minutes.
Large teams understandably need to perform longer to complete the
elements of their routine.