LEN Clinic: Artistic Swimming Discusses New FINA Rules with Record Number of Participants

LEN / Simone Castrovillari

World-class lecturers shared their knowledge and expertise on the new FINA Rules at the LEN Clinic: Artistic Swimming (AS) held in Vantaa, Finland, from Oct. 28-30. 

The clinic marks the largest AS event with its record attendance of over 150 participants from 30 federations. Two federations outside of Europe, Uzbekistan and Venezuela, attended to understand some of the most significant changes the sport has ever seen. The new FINA Rules are to take effect starting January 1, 2023, through 2025.

The LEN lecturers, pictured above, were (from left to right): AS Technical Committee (TASC) Secretary Marie Kavaklioglu, TASC Chair Ulla Lucenius, TASC Member Anastasiya Petrenko, TASC Member Annemiek Brooijmans, TASC Member Ana Montero, AS Chief Recorder Thomas Rohss, and FINA TASC Innovation Committee Chair Marie-Jose Bilbao.

Lucenius moderated the clinic and brought local club volunteers to ensure that the event was well-organized and satisfactory for the delegates. 

Bilbao, along with fellow FINA Innovation Committee members Montero and Petrenko, explained the new terminology, new artistic impression scores, and process of calculating the difficulty in hybrids and acrobatics. 

Rohss presented the new scoring system that he has been developing, which will soon be made available to all LEN federations. 

Finally, Kavaklioglu pointed out the differences between the old and new FINA Rules, and Brooijmans shared the new figures (technical elements that build an artistic swimmer’s base for more complex routines) and elements to be performed at competitions.

Ukraine won eight gold medals at the Roma 2022 European Championships – LEN

Declared Difficulty of Free Hybrid Movements

Montero demonstrates how to calculate the difficulty value of hybrid movements. By adding the time spent underwater and the number of movements performed while the head is positioned below the hips, the Base Mark, or difficulty value, is determined. This new mathematical formula provides judges with a more objective way of scoring the athletes.

Coaches are to declare the difficulty of hybrids and acrobatics on the Coach Card, which is now to be submitted 14 days before a competition. The Coach Card can be adjusted between the prelims and finals sessions of the competition, but it must be submitted to the Referee within four hours following the official prelim results. As the Coach Card indicates the Declared Difficulty, it also defines the elements, hybrids, and acrobatics that are to be performed in sequential order.

There will be a set number of Technical Required Elements (TRE), free hybrids, and acrobatics according to the age group and discipline. FINA implemented this to introduce well-balanced routines and allow athletes and coaches to make strategic decisions about the composition of their programs.

LEN / Simone Castrovillari

New Artistic Impression Scores

There is a separate panel of five judges who now give individual marks for 1) Choreography and Musicality, 2) Manner of Presentation/Performance, and 3) Transitions. Judges will provide these three distinct scores rather than one score which is 70% Choreography, 20% Musicality, and 10% Manner of Presentation. 

The walk-on and deck movements and positions will be considered in the Performance score. Judges are expected to evaluate the choreography beyond its aesthetic experience. They have to consider its variety, creativity and innovation, and pool coverage. Transitions are important to assess because they connect elements and contribute to pool coverage.

LEN / Simone Castrovillari

FINA and LEN New Scoring Systems

Besides the Artistic Impression panel, there is the Execution panel of five judges, as well. These judges observe the execution of all elements (5-11 in total, depending on age group and discipline) in the program and give one score per element. Previously, judges gave a score that averaged all the featured elements.

There are three Difficulty Technical Controllers (DTC) and three Synchro Technical Controllers (STC). The DTC checks that all the elements listed on the Coach Card are executed and in the correct order. The STC decides if there are any synchronization errors.

Routines obtain points 0-10 in increments of 0.25 now, and there are penalties of either 0.5 point or 2 points, depending on the violation, age group, and discipline.

FINA has decided to replace Chief Recorders with Swiss Timing to be in charge of scoring at its competitions. LEN will not be assimilating this change, and Rohss questions the Swiss Timing software’s availability and affordability.

In figure competitions, FINA has ruled that the 12 & Under age group will perform four figures (two compulsory and two drawn). In Youth competitions, the athletes will perform two figures from one of the three sections. 

Rohss offers athletes in his LEN program the choice to perform either two or four figures. In addition, Juniors and Seniors can participate in similar figure competitions and use their elements as figures. As such, duets and teams can combine their “figure results” in a combined competition. Athletes in the 12 & Under category are now allowed to redo their figures with a 1-point deduction after each second attempt.

LEN / Simone Castrovillari

Other Notable Changes

FINA has added the male solo and the Highlight Routine has been renamed as the Acrobatic Routine. A maximum of two male performers may be utilized in the team, free combination, and acrobatic routines. In the “First 100 Days Strategic Action Plan,” the LEN Bureau agreed to include the male solo event in LEN AS competitions in 2022 before FINA proposed its change.

The LEN AS Committee seeks to be at the forefront of the sport with its priorities on improving the athletes’ experience, making judging fair and objective, elevating the programs, and educating all the continents/federations on the aquatic discipline.

Georgio Minisini
Giorgio Minisini made history with two men’s solo golds at Roma 2022 – Simone Castrovillari