According to the official Olympics website, synchronized swimming is a new sport in comparison to many of the other Olympic sports.

Synchronized Swimming and the Olympics

According to the official Olympics website, synchronized swimming is a new sport in comparison to many of the other Olympic sports. It became very popular in the United States after its creation by Katherine Curtis. She set water acrobatics to music and had her students perform for the “Century of Progress” Fair in Chicago in 1933-34. The sport was named synchronized swimming by the event’s announcer, former Olympic gold medalist (swimming) Norman Ross.

Hollywood made the sport popular when it was included in several Esther Williams movies. It was first added to the Olympics at the Los Angeles 1984 Games. The 1984, 1988 and 1992 Games featured solo and duet events. In 1996 these were replaced with an 8-person team event. Beginning in 2000 the Olympics have held team and duet events.

Synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics are the only two exclusively female Olympic sports.

For the 2012 Olympic Games, synchronized swimming events will be held on Tuesday, August 7, and Friday, August 10. Two gold medals will be awarded.

Esther Williams, Sahara (Circa 1954)
Two MSU swimmers pose in costume

Green Splash

Synchronized Swimming at Michigan State

Michigan State University has a long history of synchronized swimming on campus. Green Splash was the women’s swimming club at MSU. It developed in 1923 out of the Women’s Life Saving Corps (established by the American Red Cross in 1922). It aimed to promote “interest in all water activities among female students.” Students were required to meet class level requirements, to maintain a ‘c’ or better grade point average, and to pass swimming requirements. Green Splash created water pageants, complete with elaborate costumes and themes, such as Alice in Waterland (1945) and Splashlight on Sports (1957). The team is no longer in existence.

The Ladies of Green Splash
Four members of Green Splash pose in costume, 1971

University Archives & Historical Collections

This blog post and the photographs found above was made possible by University Archives & Historical Collections ( This unit serves to preserve and protect the more than 150 years of MSU history.

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