The competition for both duet and team events consists of a technical routine and a free routine, each performed to music within a definitive time limit. The duet is comprised of two members, and the team is comprised of eight members. In the technical routine, swimmers perform specific moves in a set order, including boosts, rockets, thrusts and twirls. In the free routine, there are no restrictions to the type of choreography the swimmers perform. Judges look at each routine for a high degree of difficulty and risk, height out of the water, flawless execution, presentation, innovative choreography and synchronization.
The judging for synchronized swimming resembles the previous judging format for figure skating. Two panels of five judges assess a performance, one panel scores technical merit and the other assesses artistic impression. In both cases, each judge awards a mark out of 10.