No one enjoys the thought of being judged for their every action and every pose. But in judged-sports like artistic swimming (previously known as synchronized swimming, or still known by its lovely nickname: synchro) that is exactly what you sign up for. And this brings up a great question: what is a synchro judge REALLY thinking about when they are judging?
Here are the top 7 things synchro judges think about when you are competing for them:
Since judges are all unpaid volunteers, they get paid in a currency other than money: they get paid with food! And to the judges’ benefit, the synchro clubs actually try to outdo each other by providing great buffet options during competitions. When a club ‘goes all out’ and pampers the judges with hot oatmeal, chocolate covered blueberries and vegan lasagnas, you know the judges won’t stop talking about it for days.
Finally, we get to the good stuff…the technical thoughts swirling inside the judges’ heads…
6. Higher! Higher! Nooooo!
We are suckers for a good figure. Ask any judge and they will tell you that nothing gives them more pleasure in a panel than a figure performed “perfectly.” And by perfectly I mean: just like FINA says, FINA is the Federation Internationale de Natation. If you don’t speak French, it means International Swimming Federation. So picture this: it is ballet leg # 135 of 205, the judges are getting a bit tired, and so far the marks have hovered between 4.3 and 5.5, when all of a sudden...bam! A beautiful FINA-approved ballet leg unfolds in front of our eyes. We get excited and start quietly cheering for the leg...go higher, go higher, this might be a 7.4! But then the weight of the extended leg pushes the hips and part of the leg under water…and internally the judges scream: nooo!
And now the final thought…this one is the one that we are trained for:
This is the 7th thing synchro judges are thinking about when they are judging...they think about YOU. Judges are trained to look at an athlete’s performance to match it to the FINA book. So we spent the great majority of our time thinking about how YOU are fulfilling the hopes and dreams of that FINA book: for judging figures we focus on design and control; and for judging free routines we focus on execution, artistry and difficulty. Judges are like circus jugglers: we are simultaneously managing book descriptions, scoring ranges and the work of the athlete...all in a few seconds or minutes in order to arrive at the raison d’être for having judges in the first place: to produce 1 score. Hard work, and we love it.
In conclusion, no one enjoys the thought of being judged their every action and every pose. But it is a fact of life for judged-sports like artistic swimming. And that is exactly what you sign up for. If it makes you feel a bit better, please know that judges get judged too. Every competition has a chief judge and their job is to ensure that all the judges do a proper job. We know how important synchro is for you, and how important it is that the scores we give you truly represent your progress in the sport; so we take it seriously.
Here is tip: if you want to make a judge feel proud, all you have to do is rock your figure! Be as excellent as you can be, and show the judge more height, more extension, more control and more flexibility than you have ever shown before. Because maybe, once in a blue moon, you may achieve the impossible...you might make them smile for ballet leg #153.
Go for it! Judges want to give high scores, so give them a great performance.
AB, Canadian Judge
Also Yours in Synchro,