Bill May Named FINA Male Synchro Athlete of the Year

Jan. 31, 2016, 6:03 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Bill May (Cicero, N.Y./Las Vegas), who returned from a decade-long retirement from the sport of synchronized swimming to win historic gold and silver medals last summer, was named FINA’s Male Synchro Athlete of the Year on Sunday.

“Two years ago I would never have imagined winning this award today because the mixed duet was not even on the program. This comes as a complete surprise to me," said May. "I have had dream partners and amazing coaches without who I wouldn’t be here today. All their support has been so precious."

May’s longtime coach, the legendary Chris Carver, also was honored at the FINA World Aquatics Gala in Budapest, Hungary.

FINA, the international governing authority for several aquatic sports, awarded the best athletes across FINA’s six disciplines in men and women’s categories and paid tribute to their greatness and achievement in the sport.

May shares the Male Synchro Athlete of the Year honor with Russia’s Aleksandr Maltsev.

May won the first-ever gold medal in mixed duet at a FINA-sanctioned event when he teamed with 2008 Olympian Christina Jones in mixed duet tech at the FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia, in July 2015. He also won silver with 2000 Olympian Kristina Lum Underwood in the mixed duet free final.

"I think my performances in Vegas helped me get ready for Worlds," said May, who is part of Cirque du Soleil's "O" show. "It has giving me the opportunity to perform in front of a large crowd and be more athletic and in tune with the requirement of the World Championships. Kazan was incredible because I was in front of my family, my first and current coaches.”

May won 14 U.S. national championships and even more international titles in France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland, during the first part of his career, before retiring in 2004. A trailblazer in a predominately all-woman sport, he became the first male to win a national title in the U.S. and was named USA Synchro’s Athlete of the Year in 1998 and 1999.

His coach at the 2015 FINA World Championships, Chris Carver, has long been recognized as one of the most revolutionary coaches and choreographers in the history of synchronized swimming. Carver has been the head coach of the famed Santa Clara Aquamaids since 1984 and became coach of the U.S. National Team in 1993. Under her direction the U.S. won the gold in every elite, international competition it entered from the 1991 Pan American Games to the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games.