I decided to become a synchronized swimming judge at the age of 16.
At the time, I figured judging would keep me connected to the sport I loved after reaching university age (it took me years to discover you could still swim synchro as an adult).
Also, the accuracy of the scoring strategies, appealed to the science nerd inside me. So I took my 1st ever course in judging at a FINA Clinic that came to Colombia when I was 16 years old. FINA is the regulatory body controlling all swimming sports in the world.
Fast forward to the present in Canada, and I have judged at provincial and national events, and got THE thrill of my synchro life when in 2017 I met (and hugged) 1992 Olympic Gold Medal winner Sylvie Frechette.
So if you are still deciding whether or not to register for your Level 1 judging course...then let me help you by sharing my top 10 reasons for becoming an Artistic Swimming (the new name for Synchronized Swimming) judge.
- Because you look good in black
The uniform of artistic swimming officials in Canada, at least, are black pants and black polo shirts. You wear slimming black all day.
- Because you love math
It is not unusual to have a judging panel
made up of accountants, technologists and engineers. Come for the math, it is simple.
- Because you think chlorine is a perfume
For swimmers of all kinds, chlorine means fun and teamwork: waterpolo players, divers, artistic and speed swimmers. Join the club.
- Because you live for glitter and sequins
Apparently this is a synchro phrase in our circles: Glitter is Good. Suits for swim routines can get pretty elaborate. It is bling.
- Because you enjoy the power trip
If you relish being respected out of fear, then judging synchro or being a dictator is for you. Kidding, judges are really teddy bears.
- Because you crave an Olympic ring
Being an artistic swimming judge is actually a career. You can climb the ranks to become a FINA judge “A” and become an Olympian.
- Because you were born a mer-person
Being near water bodies like pools is a natural fit for most people, especially for the mermaids and mermen walking among us.
- Because you fancy buffets of food
Since judging synchro is a volunteer job, you get paid in heartfelt gratitude and food. On a 3-day competition you can snack non-stop.
- Because you judge other sports already
The skills and knowledge of judging skating or gymnastics are easily transferable to synchro. It’s all body positions and creativity.
- Because you volunteered accidentally
Many a parent has been roped into becoming a judge for the years their child competes. A front-row seat is the reward.
So there you have it, my top 10 reasons to become a synchro judge.
You really only need 2 or 3 to make the jump and register for your Level 1 judge course right now...the FIRST step in your journey.
We start you easy, at Level 1 you just judge little kids from 5-12 years old. And as you get more comfortable and collect more experience shadow-judging the older athletes, do we then move you to Level 2 to judge 12-18 year olds and masters swimmers from 19-99. Where you go after that is up to you.
If any of the listed reasons makes you decide to join the artistic swimming judges’ family, please know that you are in good company.
Judging our beautiful sport, we have past synchronized swimmers and even people who never learned how to swim. We train you no matter your past experience. To see examples of what you will learn, the FINA Manual is available online for free.
When I met my Barcelona 1992 Olympics heroine Sylvie Frechette in 2017, I was shadow judging for Level 3 at a national competition and had no idea she was now a synchro coach.
All of a sudden, I hear the announcer say the name of the athlete who just swam and the name of her trainer.
At the mention of Sylvie’s name my heart stopped, I held by breath and looked up from my now-completed judging mark. I saw her across the giant pool and knew my moment had arrived.
DO! Become a judge, find your moment.
AB, Canadian Judge
Also Yours in Synchro,