Leg exercises for choreographic preparation in artistic
swimming for sports initiation
The sports preparation of the Artistic Swimming at present is aimed at perfecting the
specificities of performance in this sport. In this context, a task to be solved immediately
is related to the difficulty of the coaches to face the choreographic preparation, which
constitutes a fundamental part of the training process. For this reason, the objective of
this research was to select exercises that, due to their characteristics, allow coaches to
choreographically prepare their athletes, taking into account their feasibility to conceive
execution routines in the sports initiation stage. Different methods were used such as
document review, analysis and synthesis, interviews and techniques such as the
methodological workshop. The investigative process allowed to establish as part of the
choreographic preparation, a proposal of leg exercises to be carried out in the Dance
Barre, which could improve the execution in this segment of the body during the
performance of the routines. The proposal was valued as very suitable for its purposes
by specialists, so it means a useful tool to minimize a problem for coaches, in order to
achieve successful presentations of their athletes in the competition.
Keywords: choreographic preparation, artistic swimming, sports initiation
Sports practice at an early age is of great importance for the physical, cognitive and
affective development of children, especially in competitive art sports such as Artistic
Swimming (Fons and Ruiz, 2021; Romero, et. al., 2022). This modality is also known as
Synchronized Swimming or Synchronized Swimming and is distinguished by its
technical requirements that make it a unique sport, since it is a discipline that combines
Swimming, Gymnastics and Dance (Podrihalo, et. al., 2021; Hernández, Brito and
Wanton, 2021). To this we can add that, according to the Federation Internationale de
Gymnastique (FIG), in its Development and High Competition Program for age groups
in Acrobatic Gymnastics (2021), the rapid increase in the degree of difficulty of acrobatic
performances, It has been the result of increasing the volume and intensity of training at
ever younger ages.
The protagonists, swimmers, perform in the modalities of solos, duos, teams or combined.
The latter are also called combos, which perform a series of elaborate movements in the
water, to the rhythm of the music. Although currently the discipline of mixed duos has
been added, due to the demand of men interested in competing (ISF, 2021).
Sports training is a pedagogical, complex and specialized process that requires an
integrating scientific direction of each of the components of the teaching-learning process
to obtain sports results (Burt, Naughton, Higham & Landeo, 2020; Romero, et. al., 2022).
This is an aspect that must be treated with great precision due to the complexity of the
executions, hence the importance of carrying out a good choreographic preparation (ChP)
of the athletes.
In this sport, as part of the ChP, the work of the legs is essential in carrying out adequate
presentation routines. The athletes must demonstrate continuous movements, developing
their performance with elements of a high degree of technical difficulty. The practice of
this discipline contains various peculiarities closely related to the character and typology
of other disciplines such as Dance (Afre, Ganda and Noda, 2016). The power and potency
in sport is manifested in the work of routines and choreography. They are designed with
a harmonious character, where different arm and leg movements and combinations of
these are performed with a high degree of complexity (Carro, 2000; Navarro, 2006).
One of the aspects that brings the most beauty to this sport is undoubtedly the majesty of
the work with the legs carried out by the athletes when they stand out from the water
surface. During the execution of the routines, the athletes must reflect that there is no
effort in their demonstration, where different angles are formed between the legs and
between them and the trunk (Cortés, 2013 and 2014). As in other sports, technical
preparation is of great importance and requires work in accordance with the requirements
from the base to the High Performance pyramid (Solana, et. al., 2019).
The practice begins from an early age between 5 and 6 years of age, although the base of
the pyramid falls on the categories 7 - 8 years and 9 - 10 years, where work is done by
Teaching Programs. All this means that when planning the preparation process, coaches
take into account what is indicated in the Comprehensive Athlete Preparation Program
(ISMPP) for these categories (Simón, et. al., 2016).
An aspect to consider in the sports initiation of this sport is the leg work during the
execution of the routines carried out by the athletes, which usually last three to four
minutes. The athletes hold their breath for long periods of time, up to 30 seconds,
however, in the content proposed in the current Comprehensive Athlete Preparation
Program (ISMPP) of Artistic Swimming, no reference is made to leg exercises that allow
the trainers, the development of the PC in the classes. Therefore, in the opinion of the
authors, it still lacks exercises for choreographic preparation. It has been possible to verify
through the Methodological Preparations of this sport in the province of Villa Clara and
the visits to training sessions of the Artistic Swimming coaches for sports initiation, that
many of the exercises applied do not allow to specify adequate routines to solve the
deficiencies of the athletes regarding the quality and beauty of footwork.
The choreographers and trainers, in their desire to solve their problems, transfer the
content of the ISMPP of Rhythmic Gymnastics or another related sport to their training.
In this sense, they take exercises that they consider basic for the CP, which they apply to
the athletes three times a week, although to a certain extent decontextualized with respect
to the characteristics of the competitive activity. From the above, it can be deduced that
this preparation is carried out empirically, since these exercises are extrapolated without
taking into account their contextualization to the inherent needs of this sport. To this it
can be added that the trainers set up the routines using exercises based on their criteria
and personal appreciations, without a solid foundation or simply taking exercises from
other related modalities.
The investigations in this sense are scarce in comparison with other sports, despite the
fact that the National Commission of this sport in Cuba guides working the Ch P three
times a week. Although for some years there have been studies on Artistic Swimming
such as those developed by Hernández, Brito, and Wanton (2021) that propose historical
background of the training process of the figures, as well as that of Fons and Ruiz (2021)
that It provides a preparation system to develop explosive strength in the lower limbs,
these do not include the contents for the ChP in training, which include the difficulty and
virtuosity demanded by the competition. Taking into account the above, the objective of
this work was to select exercises that, due to their characteristics, allow coaches to
choreographically prepare their athletes, taking into account their feasibility to conceive
execution routines in the sports initiation stage.
Materials and methods
The research is descriptive and for its development we worked with three populations.
The first made up of four Artistic Swimming coaches at the School of Sports Initiation
School (SIS) of Villa Clara, directly linked to the training of this sport in said center. This
group had the characteristics that one had a degree in Physical Culture and the rest
graduated from intermediate level, with an average of three years of work in sports.
A second population made up of five Provincial Methodologists of this sport, in the
central region of Cuba (provinces of Villa Clara, Cienfuegos, Sancti Spíritus, Ciego de
Ávila and Camagüey) who accompanied their delegations, during a Preparatory
Competition held at the SIS from Villa Clara in March 2018. All of them graduated in
Physical Culture, ages between 28 and 40 years old and three with a Master's degree in
Sports Training. With these two populations we worked to diagnose the deficiencies and
needs of the trainers regarding the ChP. We also worked with a third population made up
of the 16 coaches who participated with their athletes in the Artistic Swimming
competition of the High Performance National School Games in its 2019 edition. All
provinces were represented and all of them were characteristic. they had more than 5
years of experience as trainers or judges. They were used in the research to establish
exercises for the ChP of Artistic Swimming athletes and the characteristics that they
should have.
We also worked with an intentional sample of 8 specialists with special characteristics,
which were used to determine the relevance of the exercise proposal. The specialist
criterion was considered, considering as such people who met the following
Have at least 8 years of experience as an Artistic Swimming coach.
Hold the scientific category of Specialist, Master or Doctor in Physical Culture
Possess experience and category of Judge.
Having worked in Artistic Swimming for sports initiation or linked to it in some
way for at least 5 years.
To have worked in the sport initiation of this modality.
Different methods and techniques were used such as: analysis and synthesis and
inductive-deductive, document analysis, interview and specialist criteria. Methodological
workshops and brainstorming were used as research techniques. The research went
through three phases, the first had the objective of diagnosing the needs of the Artistic
Swimming coaches to develop the ChP in the sports initiation of this sport and to establish
the characteristics that leg exercises should have to develop adequate routines in this type
of preparation in sports initiation stage.
The second phase had the objective of selecting leg exercises for Artistic Swimming and
with this, adequately conceiving the ChP of the routines. Within the framework of the
High Performance National School Games 2019, two sessions of methodological
workshops were held with the aforementioned trainers. In the first, a specialized