Male Athletes Fight for the Right to Synchronized Swim in the Olympics

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Ukraine's Daria Iushko and Kseniya Sydorenko compete in the duets free routine final during the synchronised swimming competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Martin Bureau/Getty)

The London Games are being called the Olympics for equality, specifically when it comes to women. For the first time, each competing country has both a female and male athlete. 

But not every event in the Olympics is gender equal. While most of us are accustomed to seeing women play soccer and none of us bat an eye at women running, men are still prohibited from competing in some sports — specifically synchronized swimming.

An all-male synchronized swimming team in London has petitioned the International Olympic Committee to change that. George Gardiner is a squad member of "Out to Swim Angels" of London.


George Gardiner

Produced by:

Tim Einenkel and Kristen Meinzer

Comments [4]

B. B. Schieffelin

Check out Cheryl Furjanic's excellent documentary film, Sync or Swim, about how the US Women's Olympic Team got there - and more.

Aug. 09 2012 08:46 AM
Mark Trail from Mendocino County CA


Like a lot of people I have Olympic Fever. The combination of underemployment and cable TV has given me the wonderful feeling that I am there, to the point of needing to replace my electrolytes. The competition continues but I have some observations I need to get off my chest. Firstly, no man with a mustache should be allowed to participate in the vault in gymnastics. Never, no way, instant disqualification. Also, the Olympics can be confusing: I was watching what was clearly a promo for "Law and Order: SVU" and it turned out to be the underwater camera in a women's water polo game. Live and learn.

Additionally, I am gobsmacked by sprinter Carmelita Jeter, with her incredible blend of strength, speed and technique, plus cute short haircut and pleasant interview presence. I can't decide if I want to marry her or just be her but I would probably settle for having her come over to the house and Greco-Roman me into "medal contention." When I look at my body all I can think of is a series of unfortunate evolutionary wrong-turns but when I watch her run, the harmony that exists in the universe is restored. Speaking of interviews, I've now heard about fifty winners interviewed and when asked to describe the feeling, already three of them have avoided using the word "awesome." There is a lot of awe in the "Awelympic Games" and it's not going to get any less so with BMX starting. By the way, BMX? WTF is more like it- why don't they just introduce "Juggling on Hallucinogens" and get it over with.

I am a huge fan of the pole vault. I love a sport that combines modern equipment and techniques with good old-fashioned castle-wall breaching skills. In my view Olympic officials should never have eliminated the "Boiling Oil Dodging" competition from the games. It's a namby-pamby trend that is sure to end with draining the pit in the Steeplechase so as to avoid shoe dampness. And what's with all the broadcast interruptions to track what is going down in the "twittersphere?" The next time they interrupt volleyball coverage to update me on a Jaleel White Skeet Shooting quip I am going to throw a "snitterfit" and post something incredibly cutting about Bob Costas right here on trending facebook. That should make me feel better but I fear it will not solve an old man's problem. At least they interrupted one match to explain the history of the prime meridian.

While watching the Spanish pair of women in synchronized swimming, I realized that they epitomize what I love about humanity, what with them being simultaneously incredibly silly and beautifully dedicated to sharing their passion for holding their breath and wiggling their legs- all in a very graceful and athletic form of damp dance that did bewitch me, I will admit. Viva Espana! Could the same effect be created by men? We will only know if we let them try. Viva Los Hombres!

Will Check-Medalcount

Aug. 09 2012 06:59 AM

Yes! Men should be allowed to compete in the Olympics for synchronized swimming. As a former swimmer and coach for the Hamden Heronettes in Hamden, CT, I had the opportunity to see elite male synchronized swimmers Bill May and Kenyon Smith in competition. They are amazing athletes that should have the right to represent the USA in the Olympics. However, some structural changes would have to occur. Perhaps more like figure skating having separate men's and women's solo categories, or a mixed pairs event. Perhaps allowing separate team categories or mixed team routines that had four men and four women. Muscle mass and power are going to be key in equality so there will have to be some type of rules in terms of an all male team competing against an all female team. Something like this would take years to implement, and recruitment of high quality male synchronized swimmers especially in the US, will take time and effort.

Aug. 08 2012 11:26 AM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

I would love to see a Clint Eastwood movie about Synchronized Swimming called "Sissy."

Clint manages a Men's synchronized swimming team out of San Francisco and the reopening of Alcatraz...

Prisons across America gain momentum in competing until there is a drowning which might sink the entire program

I of course am laughing at The Olympic Committee for not having a category of synchronized swimming for Men. Real men who know how far to take their scissor cuts for the medal should be allowed to compete.

Aug. 08 2012 10:58 AM

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