The scoring system in synchronized swimming can get a bit confusing, even to us regular synchro watchers. It used to be fairly straightforward back in the day with two categories to judge: technical merit and artistic impression. Each routine was scored out of a 10.0, and the totals of these two categories were added together to get the final score.
A few swimmers and teams were able to achieve these 10.0 perfect scores, such as sport’s icon Virginie Dedieu scoring a ‘perfect’ 50.0 in artistic impression during her solo at the 2005 World Championships in Montreal, Quebec.
However, the sport has evolved very fast, becoming harder, quicker, and more difficult than ever before. As a result, the scoring system has had to be reworked, now making it nearly impossible to get one of those “perfect scores.” Keep that in mind when you watch the most recent meets and do not be surprised if you don’t see the Russians get 10.0s all over. It does not mean the sport has gotten easier or that the level has dropped, but rather that it has gotten harder and the judging had to become stricter.
Each score is still on a 0-10.0 point scale, but there are now three categories and each are weighted differently: execution, artistic impression and difficulty. Each routine is usually judged by a panel of five judges.
- Execution Score
The execution score counts for 30% of the final score. What is considered here is the level of excellence in performing highly specialized skills as well as the synchronisation, whether between each swimmer or with the music (in solo).
- Artistic Impression Score
The artistic impression score accounts for 40% of the final score. Here judges consider the choreography and creativity, music interpretation and manner of presentation.
- Difficulty Score
Finally, the difficulty score weighs 30% in the final result. No surprises there, the difficulty of movement is evaluated here.
For each panel, the highest and lowest scores are cancelled.
The Execution score is the sum of the three (3) remaining awards in the category. The Artistic Impression score is the sum of the three (3) remaining awards in the category, divided by 3 and multiplied by 4. The Difficulty score is the sum of the three (3) remaining awards in the category.
The total routine score will then be the sum of the Execution score (30%), Artistic Impression Score (40%) and Difficulty Score (30%), less any penalty deductions if incurred (such as overtime, or touching the bottom of the pool for example).
Technical routines are a bit different from free routines as they have mandatory technical elements . However, the scoring breakdown is essentially the same. The execution score is 30%, impression score is 30%, and the elements score is 40% of the final result.
- Execution and Impression Scores
The highest and the lowest are cancelled in each category, and the three remaining are added in each.
- Elements Score
For each of the required elements with an assigned degree of difficulty, the highest and the lowest awards are cancelled. The remaining three are added, and the sum divided by three. The result is multiplied by the degree of difficulty for that element.
The sum of the element scores is then divided by the total degree of difficulty for the required elements and multiplied by 10. This result is multiplied by .4.
Fun, right? Here is an example from the FINA Rulebook: