Judging Artistic Swimming Routines

Artistic swimming athletes compete in solo, duet, team and combo events. A routine lasts between 2 and 5 minutes and is performed to music of the athletes choice. Routines are evaluated on Execution, Artistic Impression and Difficulty.


Judges are trained volunteers who 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. For routines, judges sit in raised chairs that are spread out around the pool deck.


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 competition. The Chief Referee is a trained judge.
  • Assistant Referees assemble the swimmers in order of competition for each event. They are usually club volunteers who take a one-hour training session prior to the meet.

Evaluating Routines

Routines are evaluated on Execution, Artistic Impression and Difficulty. One mark is assigned for each area.


Execution mark is assessed for Execution and Synchronization.  

  • Execution is the level of excellence in performing highly specialized skills. 
  • Synchronization is the timing of each athlete with other athletes and with the music.  


Artistic Impression mark is assessed for Choreography, Music Interpretation and Manner of Presentation.

  • Choreography – the design and weaving together of variety and creativity of movements. 
  • Music Interpretation – expressing the mood of the music. 
  • Manner of Presentation – the manner in which the swimmer present the routine to the viewers. 


Difficulty mark assesses the quality of being hard to achieve.  

  • It evaluates the difficulty of all movements and of synchronization.

Scoring Routines

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


The marking scale (for figures and routines), as laid out by the FINA Artistic Swimming Manual is as follows:

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

Routine Ranking

Competitors are ranked twice for purposes of awards.

  • Routine rank is by the routine adjusted score (after penalties). For seniors, it’s based on free routine adjusted score (after penalties).
  • Championship rank is determined by championship score. Championship score is calculated as the average of the Routine Score and Figure Score.


Ribbons and medals are awarded for both Routine and Championship marks.