Can men compete in artistic swimming at the Olympics?

For the first time in the history of the Olympics, male artistic swimmers will be allowed to compete in Paris. Up to two men per country may compete in the team competition, which features teams of eight athletes.

The duet competition, which features two athletes per country, remains women-only.

How is Olympic artistic swimming judged?

Artistic swimming routines at the Olympics are judged by two panels of five judges. One panel judges the execution of various elements in a routine, while the other panel scores artistic impression. In addition, routines are evaluated by two groups of three technical controllers who watch for errors and assign penalties if necessary.

Elements panel

New to the 2024 Games is that artistic swimming routines now must include a required number of various movements, known as elements. There are three types of elements: technical required elements, free hybrid elements, and acrobatic elements. The mandatory total number and distribution of elements depends on the type of routine.

Routine Total elements Distribution
Duet technical 8 Technical: 5
Free hybrid: 2
Acrobatic: 1
Duet free 9 Technical: 0
Free hybrid: 7
Acrobatic: 2
Team technical 9 Technical: 5
Free hybrid: 3
Acrobatic: 1
Team free 11 Technical: 0
Free hybrid: 7
Acrobatic: 4
Team acrobatic 7 Technical: 0
Free hybrid: 0
Acrobatic: 7

All elements have a predetermined degree of difficulty (DD). Before the competition, each duet/team must submit a "coach card" that lists the exact elements the athletes will perform in their routine, including the order in which they will be performed.

Each of the five judges on the elements panel scores every element of the routine, based on execution, on a scale of 0-10 using 0.25 increments. For each element, the highest and lowest scores are dropped. The remaining three scores are then averaged together and multiplied by the degree of difficulty to calculate the final score for that element.

The routine's overall elements score is the sum of the scores of each individual element.

Artistic impression panel

The five judges on the artistic impression panel score each routine on three categories: choreography and musicality, performance and transitions. Per World Aquatics' official judges manual, those are defined as follows:

  • Choreography and musicality: The creative skill of composing a routine that combines artistic and technical components. The design and weaving together of variety, creativity, and innovation of all movements: elements and transitions. The pool coverage. Expression of the mood of the music, the use of the music’s structure and the synchronization of movements with music.
  • Performance: The manner in which the athletes present the routine to the viewers as well as the walk-on and the deck movements. The use of body language to express physical and emotional power, confidence, and total command of the performance.
  • Transitions: Judges consider the artistry and mastery of varied and purposeful movements, propulsions and strokes that link routine elements.

For each category, the highest and lowest scores are eliminated and the remaining three are averaged together. The routine's total artistic impression score is the sum of the averaged scores of all three categories.

Technical controllers and assigning penalties

There are two, three-person groups of technical controllers. The first group focuses on degree of difficulty and makes sure the elements performed in the water match what is declared on the coach card. 

The second group watches for synchronization errors. "Minor" errors result in a penalty of 0.1 points. "Obvious" errors trigger a 0.5-point penalty. "Major" errors (an athlete misses or fails to complete a movement) result in a 3.0-point penalty.

How is a routine's score calculated?

The final score for an artistic swimming routine is determined by adding the elements score with the artistic impression score, then subtracting any penalties.

How long are artistic swimming routines?

The required duration of artistic swimming routines depends on the event (duet/team) and the routine (technical/free/artistic). Routines must be within five seconds of the required time to avoid a penalty.

Routine Time (+/- 5 sec)
Duet technical 2:20
Duet free 2:45
Team technical 2:50
Team free 3:30
Team acrobatic 3:00