Pre-1950sThe seeds are planted
Long before the sport of synchronised swimming was officially born in North America, the seeds of the future Olympic sport were sewn in many parts of the world, including Australia, by such names as Annette Kellerman, and Australian, Esther Williams, early water ballet enthusiasts. The girls loved swimming together to musical rhythms while developing body control and finding new ways to support more of the body above the water surface for more of the time.
Early 1950sThe name is given
The name ‘synchronised swimming’ was coined in the US by an early water ballet exponent, D Curtis.
Early 1950sThe competition starts
Synchronised swimming became an officially recognised sport in North America during the 50s when its two competitive sections were established: the compulsory figures, (then called ‘stunts’ or ‘skills’), and the routines which are choreographed to music and swum in the solo, duet and team events.
Early 1950sA Melbourne Association is established
The Melbourne Synchronised Swimming Club with headquarters at the ‘old’ City Baths had existed from the early 50s organised by Nada Marsden (Brazel) and swimming each Monday 9 to 10pm at four pounds. Nada had imported synchronised swimming knowledge/films from the US which formed a foundation for many colourful displays at the Melbourne Richmond indoor pool.
1950sSwimming Victoria takes on synchronised swimming
In Victoria, Swimming Victorian (then known as the Victorian Amateur Swimming Association (VASA)) formed a synchronised swimming sub-committee headed by secretary, Mrs. Dot Quinton set to work to promote the sport and build on the already established expertise being enjoyed by club members of the ‘Melbourne Synchronised Swimming Association”.
1950sUS swimmer arrives in Melbourne
The late Mr Les Phillips of VASA was responsible for bringing the first US synchronised swimming champion, Beulah Gundling to Melbourne; her theatrical aquatic displays spread the water ballet/synchronised swimming word and soon swimming club girls were forming synchronised swimming groups to enjoy the fun of swimming in formation to music and learning ‘aquatic stunts’.
1956Melbourne Olympics display
The packed 1956 Olympic Stadium viewed a US synchronised swimming team routine and a Melbourne duet coached by Nada.
1960sFINA adopts synchronised swimming
In the early 60s the FINA adopted ‘this extra dimension of swimming’. FINA federations around the world were encouraged to promote and teach synchronised swimming.
1962Perth Commonwealth games
Nada and her swimmers also took their routines to the 1962 Commonwealth Games, Perth.
Early 1960sThe competition grows
From the early 60s the VASA Synchronised Swimming Committee conducted regular competitions, state championships and contributed swimmers/officials to Australian championships. In addition to Melbourne synchronised swimming club swimmers, competitors came from swimming clubs at Fawkner, Pascoe Vale, Brunswick and Surrey Park.
1973Narrow miss for Belgrade selection
Friedel Spacek, a synchronised swimmer who had learned early techniques in Germany started the Altona Pirouette synchronised swimming club. Friedel’s coaching produced a championship team and one of her swimmers, Kerry Eustace, became a Victorian and Australian Solo champion. Kerry narrowly missed Australian selection for the 1st World Swimming Championships in Belgrade 1973.
Early 1970sCanadian influence
Muriel Head , member of the Altona Pirouette Synchronised Swimming Club, visited the Canadian Championships in Toronto. Canada’s Synchro development started in the 1920s and had slightly different interpretations. Muriel brought an international coach from Toronto to help Victorian synchronised swimming. Mary Jane Ling’s technical expertise and training programs progressed Victorian synchronised swimming.
With the advent of the Pan Pacific Synchronised Swimming Championships in the 70s, Australia had a greater opportunity for international competition.
1977Melbourne Teachers course delivered
The developing sport required regular educational clinics for judging and coaching; as well as established qualification standards for all officials. As a result, the Victorian Teachers Course for Synchronised Swimming Basics was written and delivered in Melbourne, November, 1977.
1983Melbourne 1983 Pan Pacifics
The Melbourne 1983 Pan Pacific Synchronised Swimming Competition was a Victorian highlight and financial success with teams visiting from Canada, USA, Japan and New Zealand. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation documentary film of the event was acclaimed in Canada as the most enjoyable and factual illustration of synchronised swimming yet seen.
1984Synchro becomes an Olympic sport
Synchronised swimming became an Olympic sport at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
2007The world comes to Melbourne
The World Aquatics Championship is held by FINA every 2 years and in 2007 it was held in Melbourne.