Host City: Los Angeles, United States
Date Started: August 6, 1984
Date Finished: August 12, 1984
Participants: 50 (0 men and 50 women) from 21 countries
Youngest Participant: Sahar Helal (15 years, 116 days)
Oldest Participant: Lisa Steanes (26 years, 78 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): Miwako Motoyoshi and Tracie Ruiz-Conforto (2 medals)
Most Medals (Country): 3 countries with 2 medals
Synchronized swimming made it Olympic début in 1984, after lobbying Robert Helmick, later FINA President and IOC Member. The sport is a relatively new one with its origins dating to the beginning of the 20th century. Water show activities first received notice in the United States when Annette Kellerman (1886-1975), an Australian swimmer who toured the United States, performed her water acrobatics in a glass tank. Katherine Curtis was responsible for developing the sport in the United States, when she began to experiment around 1915 with water figures and had the figures performed to musical accompaniment. Her students performed at the 1933-34 Chicago “Century of Progress” Fair, where the announcer, former Olympic swimming gold medalist Norman Ross, coined the term “synchronized swimming.” American film star Esther Williams later popularized synchronized swimming when she performed water ballet in several American movies. The competitive aspect was developed about the same time when Frank Havlicek, a student of Curtis, drew up a set of rules.
Synchronized swimming was recognized as a separate discipline of swimming by FINA in 1952. There was a minor exhibition of synchronized swimming given at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, but little is known of it. World Championships in synchronized swimming were first held in 1973, when FINA first established swimming world championships. Synchronized swimmers compete at the World Championships in solo, duet, and team competition. In 1984, only solo and duet competitions were contested. The solo event was only added in May 1984, to fill television time after the Soviet boycott.