Sync or Swim? Flexibility Training for Synchronized Swimmers

There are several Olympic sports that have an extreme flexibility requirement associated with them. Gymnastics, synchronized swimming, martial arts and rhythmic gymnastics are just a few activities that require flexibility beyond what most would consider to be the normal range of motion.

Synchronized swimming used to be known as ‘water ballet’ and is a combination of swimming, gymnastics, and ballet. It is a very strenuous and skillful sport because competitors need strength and flexibility to perform the routines, as well as rhythm and flair to synchronize and interpret the music.


The demands associated with the execution of gymnastics movements in the water presents unique training challenges for the synchronized swimmer. To prepare for a competitive season, the athletes must develop a broad range of cardiovascular and musculoskeletal strength along with a hard core strength training and flexibility routine.

The ability to perform splits in the water requires a high level of flexibility and strength. It is imperative to achieve adequate flexibility and perform the splits, however, once in water the athlete is working against the resistance of the water.  Great strength is necessary to hold the poses required in synchronized swimming. The swimmer must propel the hips up towards the surface while pulling the legs down at the same time. Achieving a ‘flat split’ is a requirement and points can be deducted during competition at elite levels if not performed correctly.

Try this exercise to improve flexibility for competition:

Flexistretcher Middle Split Adductor Exercise:  Lying supine on your back with the legs in a middle split, lift the legs up towards the sky 2 inches, pressing into the resistance. Pause and hold for 10 counts and release. Repeat 5-10 times.