Judging Artistic Swimming Figures

Artistic Swimmers compete individually in figures. A figure is a ‘combination of basic body positions and transitions' - FINA Artistic Swimming Manual 2017-2021. As each swimmer completes a figure in front of the judges’ panel, the judges evaluate design and control elements.



Judges are trained volunteers who come from many walks of life. Some have been artistic swimmers or coaches. Others are parents of current and/or past swimmers (they are not allowed to judge their own child or any swimmers coached by their child). Some are people who just love the sport of artistic swimming.


Judges take courses and practice judge all levels of artistic swimming before becoming certified. They must keep up their level of certification by judging at several competitions each season and writing an exam every two years. They also attend yearly training courses to keep up-to-date with rule and technical changes. 

Referees are needed at every competition. 

    • Chief Referee is in charge of officials and all deck personnel. They also see to the smooth running of the meet. The Chief Referee is a trained judge.
    • Panel Referees call out the marks on each figure panel. For provincial meets Panel Referees are usually club volunteers who take a one-hour training session prior to a meet.
    • Marshalls assemble the swimmers in order of competition in each event. They too are usually club volunteers who take a one-hour training session prior to a meet.

Evaluating Figures

Judgements are made from the standpoint of perfection. Figures are executed “high and controlled, in a uniform motion, with each section of the figure clearly defined".


Figures are evaluated on Design and Control. Specific design factors include accuracy of all body positions and transitions, accuracy of alignment of body parts, correctness of pikes and tucks and accuracy of transitional movements. Specific control factors include extension, height, stability and ease of performance.


Degree of Difficulty (D.D.) refers to a number value placed on each figure – from 1.4 to 3.5. The higher the number the more difficult the figure.

Scoring Figures

Scoring Judges use a 10-point scoring system and follow the FINA artistic swimming manual for judges, coaches and referees.

10 Perfect 5.0 – 5.9 Satisfactory
9.5 – 9.9 Near Perfect 4.0 – 4.9 Deficient
9.0 – 9.4 Excellent 3.0 – 3.9 Weak
8.0 – 8.9 Very Good 2.0 – 2.9 Very Weak
7.0 – 7.9 Good 1.0 – 1.9 Hard Recognizable
6.0 – 6.9 Competent 0 Completely Failed


Points are awarded by the judges who will all show their marks at the same time. These marks are then called out, by the panel referee, to the scorers who record the marks on sheets of paper. The high and low marks are eliminated. The final mark for a figure is arrived at by multiplying the mark of the judges by the degree of difficulty allotted the figure.