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Sunday, 11 February 2007 07:09

Synchronised Swimming - History

hold one swimmer in the air above the pool
Synchronised swimming made its Olympic debut at Los Angeles in 1984

Synchronised swimming is a relatively new discipline, originating in the early 20th century.

Water show activities gained popularity in the United States when Australian swimmer Annette Kellerman toured the country performing water acrobatics in a glass tank. The sport was further developed in 1915 through the addition of music.

In the 1920s, a group of Canadian women, led by water polo player and diver Margaret Sellers, developed what they called 'ornamental swimming' from life saving and swimming techniques.

Kellerman was an inspiration to a woman who would become a Hollywood phenomenon: Esther Williams. The US freestyle swimming champion and Olympic contender portrayed Kellerman's life in the musical Million Dollar Mermaid. She also performed in a string of MGM 'aqua musicals' in the 1940s and 1950s, which inspired young girls everywhere to begin learning synchronised swimming.

Over the next 20 years the sport grew, became very technical and athletic, music was added to the routines, and the name changed to 'synchronised swimming'. In 1960, after a world tour, US swimmers demonstrated the sport at the Olympic Games in Rome. Synchronised swimming became an Olympic sport in 1984 with solo and duet competition. An eight-person team event replaced the singles at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

The reigning Asian Games singles champion is Japans' Miya Tachibana who took gold with 97.667 points in Busan 2002.


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