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Blog guest: Iva Popovic

She’s been leading the “underwater ballerinas” for more than a decade. Iva Popović is the president of the Synchronised Swimming Federation of Serbia and a member of the Executive Board of the Olympic Committee of Serbia (OCS) for the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020. For the Swimming Dad, as a #Blog guest, Iva shares with us how “baby swimming” prepares the girls for the world of synchronised - artistic swimming, what the things that make a swimmer a future “underwater ballerina” are, and why synchronised - artistic swimming is the best sport for girls.

How does swimming (baby swimming) prepare and make it easier for the girls to get into the world of synchronised - artistic swimming?

“Baby swimming” itself can significantly influence the girls to get into the world of “underwater ballerinas” (synchronised - artistic swimmers) by making them familiar with the water, get rid of the fear of water, and learn how to float. Through floating, they learn the basic elements and figures through which they explore the water. To link the elements and the figures into one whole, the choreography, they must properly master the basic techniques of swimming that are necessary for this sport.

With swimming, they start to develop the coordination of moves and muscles, proper breathing (capacity) which is rather important for synchronised - artistic swimming, since performing one choreography (routine) takes place underwater more than outside of it.

At what age can girls join this sport and become “underwater ballerinas”?

The ideal age is 5 or 6 years, because at that age they can start working both on the elements of synchronised – artistic swimming – figures and on their flexibility, dry trainings. At that age they acquire the knowledge and skills quite easily.

In synchronised – artistic swimming, apart from the water, dry trainings are also important, when the girls work on their flexibility, then the sense of rhythm is important as well, so apart from the water, it is necessary to practice classical ballet, gymnastics, and even acrobatics. At this young age, they also start to develop their work habits that help them both in sport and in life in general.

Synchronised – artistic swimming is a sport that can be taken up by older girls and boys as well, and to master the elements of synchronised - artistic swimming, develop flexibility, coordination, and motor skills they will need more time, but it is possible. Every now and then, we have girls who used to do ballet, rhythmic gymnastics and they have already mastered some of the skills of this sport, and it is our job to “transfer” that knowledge to the water.

If someone asked you: Which sport is ideal for my girl, what would you say? Synchronised - artistic swimming is a combination of ballet, gymnastics, diving and swimming.. to the music, and if you add the make-up, hair and wonderful costumes with glitter.. Yes, it is definitely the best sport for girls!

Why? Synchronised swimming is a rather comprehensive and complex sport, but it’s wonderful! Just because of that complexity. It teaches us to keep good posture, move elegantly, have self- esteem! Synchronised – artistic swimmers also have to master the makeup skills. Makeup is an integral part of our sport. Then, this is a team sport. It gives them the opportunity to make lifetime friends.. Even solo swimmers must know the team choreographies. They all train together, however, if a swimmer is a solo swimmer by her nature, then it gives her the opportunity to present her solo performance in a better way.

Photo: Best Serbian mermaids “underwater ballerinas” are Jelena Kontić and Nevena Dimitrijević, who won the 12 th position in the 2018 FINA World Ranking for pairs. They would like to qualify for Tokyo OG in 2020.

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