Frequently Asked Questions!

What does my swimmer need to bring each practice?

Please refer to Preparing for the first practice… 

Where can I purchase the necessary items for synchro?

Every athlete receives one nose clip and swim cap at the start of the season. Swimmers should always have at least one spare nose clip in case of breakage or loss. (This can be devastating mid-routine, so most athletes attach a spare to the side of their suit for easy access). 

For replacements and other necessary equipment, most local sporting goods stores work well. ASSC also obtains a (limited) bulk order of nose clips at the season start and sells them at cost.

Do parents watch practices?

Yes! Please refer to Preparing for the first practice…

When do we get to see our swimmers perform, and are other friends and family welcome? 

Spectators are encouraged at all competitions — there are several local meets to attend. Another great opportunity for family and friends to see athletes’ hard work is at our water shows. Most competitions feature both figures and routines. Typically, extended friends and family members are invited to view the routine swims, but not the figures, as these are more technical less exciting (you can hear a pin drop!).

How do I care for the custom routine swimsuit?

All competitive routines have custom-designed handmade suits. These suits are more fragile than typical suits and require extra care. Routine suits are never to be worn for anything other than a water demo or competition unless otherwise instructed by a coach. It is difficult and expensive to replace custom suits. The first, most important thing is not to misplace them.

Care instructions:

- Avoid wearing the suit in the shower (shampoo and soap break down the fabric) or hot tub.

- After use, lay the suit flat on a towel. Roll up the towel. Leaving the suit in a ball may cause colours will run into each other.

- After each use, rinse the suit in warm water, without soaking. Then, hang to dry, without wringing it out. Do not wash the suit.

- Keep the suit on a hanger when not in use.

- It is normal for sequins or embellishments to fall off during use. These will be repaired at the coach’s discretion. 

What costs can I expect on top of monthly fees?

Monthly fees include almost all costs. Not covered are:

Club uniforms

Competitive athletes buy these mandatory items in their first year and replace them, item by item, as they grow and wear out of them. Club uniforms are not required for pre-competitive swimmers.

Caps, goggles, and nose clips

All athletes receive one nose clip and one ASSC cap at the beginning of each season. Expect your swimmer to misplace and/or break these pieces of equipment — and their goggles — throughout the year.

Athletes’ individual travel expenses

Shared travel costs (such as coach accommodations and grocery bills) are estimated and included as part of monthly fees. Individual costs (such as flights to competitions and individual meals at restaurants) vary greatly from swimmer to swimmer and are paid out of pocket.

Can my athlete swim a solo or duet routine? What are the costs?

All athletes are first placed on a team, based on our club’s team-first philosophy. Extra routines — solos and duets — are limited and based on club resources and provincial and national competition limits on entrants. Athletes are invited to express interest in an extra routine during registration for the regular season. These routines are offered at the season start. Fees for extra routines are in addition to regular monthly team fees.

Is there travelling outside of the province?

The number and location of competitions for each team varies from year to year. How many competitions a given team will participate in can be found on our Programming page. The location of some competitions is set — the Nova Scotia Invitational, for example, is always in Halifax. Others — like the Atlantic Regional Championships (ARC) — rotate to a different Atlantic province each year. And yet other competitions are chosen by the club on a year-to-year basis. Coaches lay out the competition plan to athletes and parents/guardians at the latest during the year-start mandatory parent meeting. Please refer to the ASSC Travel Guidelines for more information.

Does my swimmer travel to away competitions with the team, or with family?

Swimmers in the provincial stream travel with parents/guardians to all non-local competitions. Swimmers in the national stream travel with team chaperones and coaches. Parents/guardians often do not attend these competitions, and when they do, athletes are not in their care.

What does "Novice" mean?

Novice athletes are swimmers who are new to the competitive stream, and who have developed a passion for synchronized swimming at an older age. These athletes may have participated in the pre-competitive program, or may be new to the sport altogether. These swimmers will practice the basics of synchronized swimming and work on developing a solid foundation so they can later join the provincial stream at their appropriate age group.  Novice teams are less common and — like all teams — are only formed when there is a minimum of five swimmers in the category.

What is a routine?

A routine is a choreographed program that is executed to timed music. Routines contain technical elements, strokes and body movements. Swimmers maintain synchronization in part because they can hear the music through underwater speakers. Cool.

What are figures? 

Figures are a succession of basic positions and transitions with names such as Kip, Ariana and Albatross. Athletes compete figures individually in front of a panel of judges. There are two compulsory figures for each age group that are competed at every competition. Two other figures for each age category are randomly drawn from the optional figures one week before the competition. Athletes complete figures wearing a black swimsuit, white cap, nose clip and goggles. Ask your swimmer what they think about Barracuda!

What is “Combo”?

A combo is a combination routine. It’s like a team routine, except that members of the combo “break off” and complete solo and duet elements in the water alongside the rest of their team mates. Really, it’s just another way to tell a story using a synchronized swimming routine. A combo routine can have up to 10 swimmers. 

What is an inter-club team or routine?

Provinces may combine athletes from different clubs within the province to form teams, combos, or mixed duets (one male and one female swimmer).

What is a mock meet? 

A mock meet is a simulation of an actual competition. The purpose of a mock meet is to teach young athletes what to expect at a competition, so that they can feel prepared and confidant when they get to the actual meet. Mock meets are usually held at most once a year. Scores do not count. For first-time competitive swimmers, they can be especially useful to help athletes understand the flow of meets and what the positive stress of competing feels like.

What is a pre-swim or pre-swimmer?

A pre-swimmer is an individual swimmer or team that swims before a routine competition or a particular figure. They are scored, but only in order for judges to calibrate their judging. They are not competing.

What is Jr. FINA?

Jr. FINA is one of those peculiar synchro monikers. It refers to the 16 and Over national stream team. “Junior” represents the age category and “FINA” the Fédération Internationale de Natation, the International Olympic Committee-recognized federation that administers world water sport competition. The group is more commonly known as “junior."

What is an alternate?

This athlete learns several positions on a team and can fill in for any missing athlete. Some alternates rotate in and out of positions over competitions, some stay in ready mode for every competition and only swim when another swimmer cannot, due to injury or illness. Alternates generally make teams stronger and less prone to emergency last-minute re-structuring of routines.

How does scoring work throughout the year?

Scoring is incredibly complex. Parents/guardians who are interested in learning more should speak to their athlete’s coach. Scoring is also discussed at the year-start mandatory parent meeting.

How the heck do they do those boosts?!

It’s against the rules for a synchronized swimmer to touch the bottom (or side) of the pool during a routine. Boosts — even when an athlete is catapulted into the air — are executed solely by way of the power of the swimmers.

What if my swimmer needs to miss practice due to illness, injury or for another reason?

Every practice is important in synchro, in large part because many routine components cannot be practiced without every swimmer there. Please have a careful read of the Attendance Policy section of the Policies and Guidelines to know how to appropriately deal with illness, injury or major life events.

What happens if my swimmer suffers and injury during practice? 

If an athlete suffers an injury (either at the pool, or during another activity) the club’s injury protocol will kick in. Post-injury, coaches, athletes and parents work together to ensure a safe recovery and return to practice. ASSC follows the 2017 Harmonized Concussion Protocols set by the New Canadian Guidelines for Concussion in Sport Committee.

How can I help support my swimmer, the coaches and the club as a parent/guardian?

Ensure your swimmer has what they need to be successful, including healthy routines (eating, sleeping, hydrating), stretching regularly, arriving to practice on time and being prepared. Remind your swimmer to respect fellow swimmers, coaches, and the club, as per the Athlete Code of Conduct signed as part of registration. Remind them to have fun!

Every swimmer brings different strengths to the team. Trust the coaches’ decisions on the position and role of each swimmer. Support the coach by reminding your child to respect the rules, and to come to practice ready to give their best. Please remember, too, that coaches are giving their very best each and every practice to every athlete, and any questions or concerns from parents/guardians should always be communicated in a respectful manner and in the proper forum, as per the Parent/Guardian Code of Conduct signed as part of registration.

The club is made up of a volunteer board, and always needs help to ensure a successful year for swimmers. Please consider volunteering (see How to get involved). Volunteering requires no experience, and is often very easy. 

How are teams set? 

Coaches run testing throughout the season to help determine placement for returning athletes. New athletes are placed after the first few practices.

What is the difference between Provincial Stream and National Stream?

Provincial Stream athletes compete at provincial and Atlantic meets. National Stream athletes compete at provincial and national meets.

How do age categories work in synchro?

Age categories in synchro are notoriously tricky to understand. Imagine it’s September 2012. Athletes are starting what would be commonly referred to as the 2012-2013 season, since they will practice and compete from September 2012 through the spring of 2013. However… technically, synchro competitive seasons run January through December. So, in the case of the 2012-2013 year, the season is January 2013 through December 2013. The category into which athletes fit is always determined by their age on the last day of the competitive season. In the case of the 2012-2013 season, that’s December 31, 2013. So, even if an athlete doesn’t turn 13 until December 30, 2013, for the 2012-2013 season, that swimmer is considered 13 and will swim in the 13-15 age category. If you’re following along, that means the swimmer is counted as 13 even though she will be 12 for the entire time she practices and competes during the 2012-2013 season. Phew! 

What does it mean when an athlete “swims up” or “swims down” an age category?

Provincial stream athletes can swim up or down an age category. For example, an athlete might be in the 13-15 age group, but due to physical ability or maturity, may swim up to the 16 and Over group or down to the 11-12 group. For a team to qualify to compete, though, the averaged age of all team members must be in the stated age grouping for the team. Athletes who swim up or down still must swim their actual age grouping figures. National stream athletes can swim up, but cannot swim down. All in all, swimming up or down is rare.

What is the cut-off date for registration? 

Discover Synchro and Pre-Competitive programs are open for registration all year long. Competitive programs are open for registration during the off-season. There is a spring registration for returning swimmers and the cut-off for competitive registration is the first practice of the season in September. Late registrations are considered on a case-by-case basis.

What opportunities exist for athletes over 18?

The Senior age category is for swimmers who are moving out of the 16 and Over age category and who have many years of competition experience. They may compete at provincial, national and international meets and be eligible for Canada Games.  

Masters category athletes are passionate about synchronized swimming but are not pursuing it at a high-performance level. They may still compete at provincial, national, and international meets.  

The Canadian Synchronized Swimming University League (CUSSL) is a great option for swimmers wishing to pursue their education and still compete. Every year more and more Canadian Universities are forming teams, and the level of competition continues to rise.  

NCAA synchronized swimming is highly competitive.  Many Canadian swimmers make the move to the United States to pursue high performance swimming, while also continuing their education.

There is also the option of sharing the wealth of experience gained as an athlete by becoming a coach, volunteer or official. Visit the ASSC Coaches section for more information.

If you have a question not answered here, please don't hesitate to send it to our head coach.