Creating a routine from zero can sometimes make you mad, but usually, it is extremely exciting for some of us. The problem is … we all want to be original in the process, we all want to be different. But what should we do or how do we innovate when everything has been done?
Well, you make up your own theme, your own story and you make it unique. Hey!, who said it would be easy? No, this part is the hard one, but once you got it, the rest is pure inspiration. Here I will share some ideas that might be obvious but could serve as links to your own masterpiece and at the end, I share some of my favorite eye-catching moments.
Usually, when you begin to think of ideas for the first time, you have young girls in your team. Maybe they are about around 10 years old or less. So, here are some ideas for that age group. There is a theme for these group and you will always find in any competition girls swimming to Disney music. What is famous now, has been or what are the classics? If ever in doubt I would use Mambo from Perez Prado, the swimmers find it funny and refreshing.
For 11 and 12-year-olds they are starting to develop their own tastes, and this is great, but still, they aren’t old enough to make decisions. Believe me, if you let them decide or give them the opportunity, usually, they won’t come to an agreement and sometimes they feel like it is too much responsibility on their shoulders. Learn also more if you check out this post about Roger “Tiger” Holmes.
My advice is that you ask them to bring ideas to the pool (music, movie, pictures, concept, dance, make-up, other routines, anything works) at the beginning of the season and from all of those ideas you chose the best three. Then, you make a vote for that one with the team, so they feel included in the decision and part of the process overall. Around this age, it is a good time to introduce sharpness (precise arms or leg moves) into the choreography, so I would even consider a Robot or Soldier themes. If ever in doubt use a popular pop song.
At 13 years of age, they are usually opinionated, especially one of the members of the team. Is funny around this age also you will start seeing the personalities in the team: the leader, the overachiever, the lazy, the cool, the follower, the shy, the “last one to get the memo” (that was me, just like Dory from Finding Nemo), the artistic, etc. And this is great because all of these personalities working together create unique pieces for themselves when working as a team. So, as a coach, I always try to use this in the favor of the swimmers and help them help the team. This way, they will also learn how to best develop their butterfly techniques.
Ok, so, going back to the subject. At this age, they want to be the coolest, most awesome swimmers in the world, but they are still learning to control the technique and swim together as a team complying with all the requirements (formations, extension, height, etc.). My advice is that they choose a piece of music that will motivate them, but it is still a defined beat (for a team event…for duet or solo, depends on the swimmers’ skill level).
This way you will make sure that they get inspired by the music, which at the end will energize them in the competition, but also keep the objective of synchronization covered. At these ages, if they get really into the feel of the choreography, a good theme could be superheroes or any theme that makes them feel powerful. If ever in doubt just use a movie soundtrack.
For 16-year-olds and up, I would use whichever music gets them excited or inspires four or five of the members because they will later be the ones that lead the rest of the team. It could be pop, tango, heavy metal or themes about vampires, fire, and ice, technology, yoga; as simple as classical music or as complicated as mythological creatures (mermaids, unicorns or ugly ones like werewolves, dragons). Whatever floats their boat.
The more involved the swimmers are the better since it will become their precious project. Here is an example of the development of a routine from zero. The Granollers Team from Barcelona, Spain wanted to do something unique, and in synchro, it is always unique when the swimmers are the ones that bring ideas to the routine. The coach explains the same problem “everything has been swimmed to”, so, she liked Madonna and to her surprise, when she had the idea and shared it with their team, most 13-15 swimmers didn’t know about the Madonna Era, so, they learned it through videos, liked the music beat and created the moves for the routine.