More Olympic Synchro Teams Will Boost Sport

May 08, 2018, 8:10 a.m. (ET)

Team USA won bronze in the team event at the 2004 Athens Games.


Synchronized swimming recently got an Olympic boost with the addition of two more teams for the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

Last month, the FINA Bureau accepted a proposed by-law from the Technical Artistic Committee (TASC) that will increase the number of teams competing in the Olympics from eight to 10. It’s a move that Ginny Jasontek, TASC Vice Chair, said will be huge for the sport.

“The synchro community is excited about this. We really need 10 teams, and I think this is the only way,” she said. “Synchro is one of the first events sold out at every Olympics. The public loves teams and we need 10. Actually, we want 12 someday.”

Added USA Synchro President Linda Loehndorf: “The increase in the number of teams from eight to 10 in the Olympics is wonderful for our sport. We will still have the required continental representation, but the competition for those remaining spots will be fierce.”

Synchro is allocated 104 athletes for each Olympic Games, so to make this change work the TASC had to move around the numbers. As a result, the number of duets that will compete at the Olympics was reduced from 24 to 22.

The 10 teams that earn a spot in the Olympics will now come from continental championships (five, including the host country), the World Championships (top two countries) and the Olympic Games Qualifying Tournament (three countries). The duets come from those 10 teams, World Championships and the Olympic qualifier.

In addition, the reserve athlete for each country has been eliminated, although an extra swimmer may still be called upon if necessary, according to Jasontek.

“We said, ‘OK, what if we didn’t have the reserve?’ Well, we had to do a lot of thinking about that because our rule is that you have to have eight to swim,” she said. “The only way to solve it was to put the reserve not in the Olympic Village but in the city. You give them some day passes so they can actually practice and then, if somebody is injured, that swimmer turns in her credential, and the credential is issued to the reserve swimmer.

“I wish that it wasn’t that way – I think the reserve is very important to teams where there could be so many accidents and injuries in some of the riskier moves and lifts, but it will work. We’re pleased with it and we think it will work.”

Jasontek said the change will give several countries, including the U.S., a great opportunity to return teams to the Games.

“I think it makes a lot of difference. Having eight teams in a world that’s filled with a lot of very strong countries, it was very, very difficult (to qualify a team),” she said. “So you add two more teams, it opens the door a little bit. If we have a strong team in 2020 and/or 2024, the USA will have more than just the one opportunity to represent our continent (UANA). There will now be two more spots open to the world, and we can try to get one of them. I think it’s really positive.”