Today, synchronized swimming is a strong and powerful female sport, but only a pair of women, a duet, will be representing our country at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. In the past, leading back to the days of Benjamin Franklin, men were just involved in synchronized swimming as women. Franklin described his swim in the Thames River from Chelsea to Blackfriars, performing, on the way, “many feats of activity, both upon and under the water that surprised and pleased those to whom they were novelties.”
More than 100 years after Ben Franklin’s damp balletics, a vaudeville performer named Annette Kellerman toured the country giving stunt-swimming exhibitions. Kellerman is described as being the first modern synchronized swimmer.
At the 2015 World Aquatic Champion-ships, FINA (swimming’s governing body) added mixed pairs to every aquatic discipline. Many countries, including Russia, Japan, Italy, Ukraine, France, the USA and Canada, sent athletes who completed in the mixed-pairs technical and free programs. Yes, of all the disciplines, it’s synchronized swimming which has had the most history of mixed pairs at worlds and Canada’s own Rene Robert Prevost
and Stephanie LeClair finished eighth.
Olympic synchro comes in duet and eight-person team varieties. Competitors first perform technical routines, in which they’re judged on how well they execute various required elements, and then free routines that put more of an emphasis on artistic interpretation. The performances last between two-and-a-half and four-and-a-half minutes. When men are added to the mix, its two people intertwined in artistic performance and athletics, it’s ice dancing in the water — we just call it synchronized swimming!
Submitted by John Ortiz