History of synchronized swimming in the U.S.

1907– Australian, Annette Kellerman, performing in a glass tank, attracts national attention at the New York Hippodrome as the first underwater ballerina.

1915– Katherine Curtis, student at the University of Wisconsin, experiments with diving actions and stunts in the water.

1923– Curtis starts a water ballet club at the University of Chicago. The group executes strokes, “tricks” and floating formations.

1934– Sixty of Curtis’ swimmers, called the Modern Mermaids, perform in the lagoon at the Century of Progress World’s Fair in Chicago.

1939– The first U.S. competition, held May 27, is a dual meet at Wright Junior College between Wright and the Chicago Teachers’ College, Curtis’ team…Showman Billy Rose develops an Aquacade for the World’s Fair in New York featuring Olympians Eleanor Holm and Johnny Weismeuller.

1940– Esther Williams, U.S. freestyle champion and Olympic contender, popularizes water ballet with her performances in the San Francisco World’s Fair Aquacade and subsequent MGM movies…The Central Association of the Amateur Athletic Association [AAU] begins competitions in synchronized swimming. The first CAAAU meet is held March 1, 1940 in Wilmette, Illinois.

1941– The AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) adopts synchronized swimming as an official competitive sport for duet and team events. Clark Leach of the CAAAU was the first chairman.

1942– A Trial National Championship for Teams was held Aug. 14-16 in Neenah, Wisconsin. Three Chicago clubs participated. Lakeshore Athletic Club won.

1946– The first Official National Team Championship is held August 11 at Riis Park in Chicago. The duet event is held Sept. 8 in Hinsdale, Ill. Chicago Town Club won both competitions.

1950– The solo event is added to the program of events. June Taylor of Ontario, Canada wins the Indoor Solo title while Beulah Gundling of Cedar Rapids, Iowa wins the Outdoor Solo title.

1951– The U.S. and Canada demonstrate at the I Pan American Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

1952– The U.S. And Canada demonstrate at the Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland.

1954– FINA, the international aquatics federation, is formed. FINA makes synchronized swimming a competitive division of aquatics.

1955– The II Pan American Games in Mexico City, Mexico includes synchro as an official event for the first time. The U.S. sweeps all three events in its first official international competition. Beulah Gundling wins solo, Ellen Richard and Connie Todoroff win duet and the Athens Club of Oakland win the team event.

1956– The USA establishes the first Age Group rules and competition…Synchronized swimmers from Athens Club of Oakland, Calif., demonstrate at the Olympics in Melbourne, Australia.

1958– Stunt (figure) competition is added.

1959– The first Junior Olympic rules and program begin…The U.S., represented by the Athens Club, and Canada demonstrate at the III Pan American Games in Chicago…Annette Kellerman and Katherine Curtis are inducted into synchro’s “Helms Hall of Fame.”

1960– After a world tour, U.S. swimmers demonstrate at the Olympic Games in Rome.

1963– The U.S. wins gold in all events at the IV Pan American Games in Sao Paulo, Brazil: Roberta Armstrong, solo; Barbara Burke and Joanne Schaak, duet; and the Athens Club team of Oakland.

1964– The U.S., represented by the San Francisco Merionettes, and Canada demonstrate at the Olympic Games in Saporo, Japan.

1967– Pam Morris is the first synchronized swimmer inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. The U.S., represented by the San Francisco Merionettes, and Canada demonstrate at the V Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada. Margo McGrath wins solo at the Golden Gate International Solo, the first international competition in the U.S.

1968– The U.S., represented by the Santa Clara Aquamaids, demonstrates at the Olympic Games in Mexico City.

1971– The first National Junior Olympic Championship is held in Norfolk, Va…The U.S. wins gold in all events at the VI Pan American Games in Cali, Colombia: Heidi O’Rourke, solo; O’Rourke and Joan Lang, duet; and the San Francisco Merionettes team. O’Rourke and Lang receive perfect 10s for their duet routine.

1973– The first World Aquatic Championship is held in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Led by Teresa Anderson, who wins four gold medals, the U.S. team sweeps all events and their gold medals push the U.S. aquatic team (swimming, diving, water polo and synchro) to the overall victory at the Championships.

1974– The first World Synchronized Swimming Conference is held in Ottawa, Canada. American Kathy Kretschmer wins the World Solo Invitational competition held in conjunction with the conference… The U.S. sweeps gold at the first Pan Pacific Championship in Honolulu: Gail Johnson, solo; Johnson and Sue Baross, duet; and the Santa Clara Aquamaids team.

1975– The first Masters National Championship is held in Reading, Pa…The U.S. wins gold in all events at the II World Aquatic Championships in Cali, Colombia, and at the VII Pan American Games, Mexico City: Gail Johnson, solo; Amanda Norrish and Robin Curren, duet; and the Santa Clara Aquamaids team.

1977– AIAW Intercollegiate National Championships are held for the first time in Lansing, Mich. Ohio State University wins all events.

1978– The first National Sports Festival, organized by the USOC, was held in Pueblo, Colo. Synchronized swimming selects 10 swimmers from each zone for the East, West, North and South teams. Swimmers are selected from the figures results of the previous National Championships… Congress passes the Amateur Sports Act mandating a new independent structure for amateur sport in the United States…Santa Clara wins the team event at the III World Championships in Berlin, Germany

1979– U.S. Synchronized Swimming Inc. is established as the national governing body for the sport of synchronized swimming in the United States … Based on the success of the previous year’s Sports Festival, the United States establishes its first national team. Team USA wins the team event at VIII Pan American Games in San Juan, Puerto Rico and at the first World Cup in Tokyo.

1980– The first American Cup is held in Concord, Calif. The U.S. team wins all events: Linda Shelley, solo; Shelly and Suzanne Cameron, duet, and Team USA, team…The IOC accepts the duet event for the 1984 Olympic Games.

1981– United States Synchronized Swimming Inc. establishes its national headquarters at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Paula Oyer is hired as the first executive director.

1982– Tracie Ruiz wins solo at the World Aquatic Games in Guayaquil, Ecuador, while the U.S. takes silver in duet and team. Orlando, Florida hosts the first ASUA [Pan American countries] Age Group competition in the U.S.

1983– Team USA performs before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the IOC meeting in Los Angeles, Calif. … The U.S. wins gold in all events at the II American Cup in Los Angeles. At the Pan American Games in Caracas, Venezuela, Tracie Ruiz wins solo, Ruiz and Candy Costie win duet and Team USA wins silver…U.S. Synchronized Swimming Inc. relocates to Indianapolis to launch a nationwide grassroots development program funded by the Lilly Endowment.

1984– International Olympic Committee officially accepts the solo event into the 1984 Olympic Games two months before the Games begin…Synchronized swimming premieres at the XXIII Olympiad in Los Angeles, Calif…Tracie Ruiz and Candy Costie win the first Olympic medals in the duet event. Ruiz captures an additional gold medal a day later in the solo event. Sarah Josephson, alternate, is sixth in figures. The three athletes are coached by Charlotte Davis. Olympic Manager is Gail Emery … Ruiz and Costie attain their first “perfect” International Routine score at the Rome Open II in Rome … USSS adopts a Coaches Certification Program and hires a full-time national coach, Charlotte Davis, to oversee national team programs.

1985– II FINA World Cup is held in America (Indianapolis) for the first time. Team USA wins silver medals in all of the events.

1987– The United States captures all events at the 1987 Pan American Games in Indianapolis: Tracie Ruiz, solo; Sarah and Karen Josephson, duet; and Team USA. The U.S. also wins the team title at the III FINA World Cup.

1988– At the XXIV Olympiad in Seoul, Korea, U.S. Team members Tracie Ruiz-Conforto and Karen and Sarah Josephson win silver medals in the solo and duet competitions.

1989– The United States, for the first time since 1975, sweeps all events at the IV FINA World Cup in Paris: Tracy Long, solo; Long and Michelle Svitenko, duet and Team USA…The first FINA Junior World Championship is held in Cali, Columbia, with the U.S. Team sweeping all events: Becky Dyroen, solo; Dyroen and Jill Sudduth, duet and the USA’s first National Junior Team.

1990– USA’s Kristen Babb wins solo and Karen and Sarah Josephson win duet at the sport’s debut at the Goodwill Games in Seattle, Wa.

1991– At the VI World Aquatic Championships in Perth, Australia, the U.S. Team captures the World Team title. Karen and Sarah Josephson win their first World Duet title. Based on their performances, the USA is now ranked number one in the world…The IOC votes to replace the solo and duet events with the team competition starting at the 1996 Olympic Games…The U.S. Team sweeps all events at the XI Pan American Games in Havana, Cuba. It is the sixth time that the United States has done this…At the V FINA World Cup in Bonn, Germany, the U.S. Team captures the gold medal. Karen and Sarah Josephson win their first FINA World Cup title.

1992– At the XXV Olympiad in Barcelona, Spain, the U.S. team sweeps gold medals in both the solo and duet events. Kristen Babb-Sprague is crowned solo champion*. Karen and Sarah Josephson dominate the duet competition to win their first-ever Olympic gold medals.

1993– The United States wins all events at the VI Synchronized Swimming World Cup. America’s Becky Dyroen-Lancer has her second grand slam performance of the year winning gold medals in solo, duet, team and figures.

1994– Team USA sweeps all events at the VII World Aquatic Championships in Rome. Once again, Becky Dyroen-Lancer leads the Americans with another grand slam performance. Dyroen-Lancer wins more gold medals than any other American at the event, which includes swimming, diving, and water polo.

1995– For the second consecutive time, Team USA, led by Becky Dyroen-Lancer, sweeps the NationsBank Synchronized Swimming World Cup in Atlanta. Dyroen-Lancer records her ninth consecutive grand slam. At the Olympic qualifying event held at the conclusion of the World Cup, the United States sets a new record by receiving a perfect score of ten 10s… U.S. Synchronized Swimming selects its first-ever 10-member Olympic team for the 1996 Games.

1996– In the team event’s premier at the 1996 Olympic Games, the USA performs flawlessly. After winning the technical routine portion, the USA’s free routine “Fantasia on an Orchestra” captivates the audience and judges. The USA receives a perfect score of 100 in the free routine to earn the first Olympic gold medal in team competition… Bill May of Syracuse, N.Y. enters the national spotlight by earning a place on the U.S. Junior National Team, the first male to achieve such an honor in the U.S.

1997– The International Olympic Committee announces on May 20 that duets will be re-introduced to the Olympic program for the Games of the XXVII Olympiad in Sydney, Australia… Following the full retirement of the Olympic Team, the United States places fifth in team, sixth in duet and seventh in solo at the VIII FINA World Cup in Guangzhou, China.

1998– The United States regains its medal status by earning the bronze medal in team at the 8th World Championships in Perth, Australia. Bill May and Kristina Lum win the duet title at the Jantzen Nationals, gaining international exposure for the possibility of mixed duet competition in the future. May and Lum represent the United States in the 1998 Goodwill Games in New York, winning the silver medal in duet and helping Team USA to second place in team. However, two weeks later, ASUA rules May is not eligible for Pan American Games competition in 1999. At the 1998 USAS Convention, May is named USSS Athlete of the Year. The U.S. Junior National Team wins the team gold medal at the V American Cup.

1999– Team USA’s “Magic” routine places second in the Pan American Games in front of a decisively Canadian crowd in Winnipeg, Canada. The duet of Emily Marsh and Becky Jasontek also takes second. A fourth-place team finish at the FINA World Cup in Seoul, Korea leads the U.S. to third place overall under FINA’s new championship points calculation system. Bill May leads Team II to a sweep of the Swiss Open and repeats as USSS Athlete of the Year. Just three weeks later on Oct. 7, Russian Olympian and four-time Jantzen national champion Anna Kozlova is sworn in as an American citizen, ending a five-year, 84-day process to compete for the United States.

2000– The Games Down Under brought Team USA to the Australian continent twice – first for the qualifying event in April and then for the Olympic Games. The USA’s “Storm” routine excelled in difficulty, earning the team a fourth-place finish in the qualifier. A slight technical routine error at the Olympics put the team in fifth heading into the free routine swim – a setback the USA could not overcome. Anna Kozlova and Tuesday Middaugh finished fourth in duet in their elite international debut. Russia captured its fist ever Olympic medals, with Japan taking both silvers and Canada and France splitting the bronze.
Y2K was kind to Bill May, as the sport’s lone elite male swimmer swept the Jantzen Nationals – the eighth consecutive sweep for Santa Clara – in the absence of the Olympic team members. May led National Team II to a sweep of the Rome Open as well. The U.S. Junior Team finished second at the American Cup, hinting at a promising 2001 Jr. Worlds in Federal Way, WA.
Ohio State reclaimed its collegiate crown after a two-year stint in the hands of Stanford. Team USA coach Chris Carver and Olympic gold-medalist Tracie Ruiz-Conforto were inducted into the Women’s Sports Foundation International Hall of Fame. The end of the year marked the resignation of National Team Director Charlotte Davis, the spark behind the U.S. National and Olympic Team programs since 1979.

2001 –Team USA began anew in 2001 following the retirement of eight of nine Olympians. The half-and-half mix of veterans and newcomers ventured to the 2001 World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, coming away with fourth-place finishes across the board, including by Anna Kozlova in solo, and Lauren McFall and Becky Martin in duet.
Ten athletes originally from ten different age group programs made up a Team II roster that enjoyed success at the Swiss Open. Bill May won solo gold, the duet of Andrea Nott and Mary Hofer took third, while Team USA won bronze.
The Juniors took on the world in North America’s first-ever Junior World Championships, held in Seattle. Alison Bartosik finished fourth in solo, teamed with Sara Lowe for sixth in duet, and the team finished fifth.
The USSS National Office welcomed aboard a new Executive Director in November. Terry Harper came to USSS from U.S. Sailing, replacing Debbie Hesse, who resigned after seven years of service.

2002–The United States was back on the podium capturing bronze at the FINA World Cup in Zurich, Switzerland. The Junior Team duet of Sara Lowe and Stephanie Nesbitt faired the same winning bronze at the FINA Junior World Championships in Montreal, Canada.

2003 –Anna Kozlova and Alison Bartosik were named the 2004 Olympic Games duet, the first Americans to be named to the 2004 Olympic Team. The United States continued is climb in the world capturing bronze in the team competition and the silver in the combo team routine at the 2003 FINA World Championships in Barcelona, Spain. The team and the duet of Kozlova and Bartosik reclaimed gold at the 2003 Pan American Games in the Dominican Republic. The U.S. took home silver in 1999 as runners-up to the Canadians, but reclaimed the gold in 2003.

2004 – The U.S. returned to the medal stand with third place finishes in both the team and duet events at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Alison Bartosik and Anna Kozlova represented the U.S. in the duet, marking Kozlova’s third Olympic Games.

2005 – The United States headed to Montreal for the XI FINA World Championships and walked away with a fifth place solo finish (Christina Jones), a fourth place duet finish (Sara Lowe and Stephanie Nesbitt), a fourth place team finish, and a fifth place combination routine finish. Lowe and Nesbitt, 2004 Olympians and bronze medalists, reunited to swim in the duet, marking their final competition as members of the U.S. National Team.

2006 –  The United States brought home no medals from the FINA World Cup, but fourth
place finishes in all three disciplines forecasting a promising future. Christina Jones served as the soloist in her second major international competition competing in the senior ranks. Jones teamed up with Andrea Nott in the duet and both joined their teammates in the team competition, barely missing the medal stand each time.

Team USA redeemed itself at the inaugural FINA World Trophy Cup, as it unveiled its combo routine and dazzled the crowd with a gold medal performance in the combination event. This marked the first time the U.S. found itself in the gold medal position during a major international competition since the 1996 Olympic Games, in which the U.S. posted a perfect score.

In December of 2006, Jones and Nott won the 2008 U.S. Olympic Duet Trials, and were the first athletes named to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team for any sport.

2007 –  The future looked bright for Team USA heading into 2007. At the FINA World Championships, the U.S. snagged a bronze medal in the combination routine. In the solo tech, Christina Jones grabbed a fourth place finish and a fifth place finish in the solo free, marking the first time a medal was awarded in both the tech and free disciplines. Jones competed with Annabelle Orme in the duet tech and with Andrea Nott in the duet free, taking home fifth place finishes in each. The U.S. claimed fifth place finishes in both the team tech and team free events.

The 2007 Pan American Games served as the qualifier in the for the 2008 Olympic Games. The U.S. solidified gold medals and Olympic spots in both the team and duet (Jones and Nott) competition.

2008 – At the Olympic Games in Beijing, China, Team USA debuted its brand new free routine program to the theme of “light.” The routine featured innovative and groundbreaking choreography which had never been brought to the competition pool before. The U.S. swam its way into a fifth place tie with Japan. The duet of Christina Jones and Andrea Nott also earned a fifth place finish.

Source: USASynchro.org

 

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