Team USA's Impact on the Olympic Journey

May 28, 2014, 11:12 a.m. (ET)

TEAM USA's impact on the Olympic Journey

Celebrating 30 years in the Olympic Games

Like so many sports, Synchronized Swimming set its sights on the Olympic Games. In order to be selected as an Olympic sport (before even being considered for a vote in), athletes must demonstrate at the Games*.  The United States was instrumental in the various demonstrations that were held over the thirty years prior to becoming an official Olympic sport. 

  • In 1952 the U.S. and Canadian teams performed at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland.  Helsinki is the host to this year’s Junior World Championships where TEAM USA will be competing later this summer. 

  • Demonstration at the Olympic Gala in Rome by swimmers from 3 separate Tours which all met in Rome. With no State Department Funding for these Tours, swimmers were chosen by application from those willing to pay their own way. Each of the 3 European Tours had approximately 20 swimmers and divers and each was for seven weeks. 

  • Olympic Gala Demonstrations included swimmers from the Lansing Sea Sprites, St. Louis Shaw Park, and New York Community College. This was another self funded tour and became the last of the 'Round the World' Tours. Clinics and exhibitions were given in 15 countries before ending in Tokyo at the Olympic Gala.

  • 1968 Mexico City Olympics - This was the last Olympic Gala Exhibition. The Santa Clara Aquamaids demonstrated. 
  • It should be noted also that during these years, numerous swimmers and clubs were traveling abroad to competitions which had begun in many countries. There was great sharing of knowledge by individual swimmers and clubs,  all with the same goal, Olympic sport inclusion.

Finally, after three decades of demonstrations and proving legitimacy, in 1980 the International Olympic Committee accepted the duet event for the 1984 Olympics. And just three months before the Games, the International Olympic Committee accepted the solo event as well.

Synchronized swimming had its Olympic debut in front of an American crowd at the XXIII Olympiad in Los Angeles. Tracie Ruiz and Candy Costie won the first Olympic duet gold medal, and Ruiz won the first Olympic solo event, coached by Charlotte Davis.*

The Olympic events would later change, and in 1996, team synchronized swimming was the only event. Team USA won the gold with a perfect free routine score. Duet was added in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and both team and duet are currently allowed in the Olympic Games.*

*Portions of this article are from