Male competitors in artistic swimming, which was once more widely marketed as broadly known as synchronized swimming and water ballet – will now be permitted to form their own teams and try to earn a spot in the 2024 Olympics.
Men have competed in the discipline at some lower levels for decades but now they can officially take the dive to the global stage. Men will be eligible to compete in the upcoming Olympics as part of the team event, with the new rules permitting no more than two men in a team of eight competitors.
The fight to include men in this event actually goes back well over a decade and was brought to the forefront during a movement by a team from the United Kingdom in 2012. At the time, the idea of crossing gender lines in traditionally divided events was unheard of. But in today’s ever-evolving social climate, anything seems to be possible. And when it comes to these hopefuls, ‘possible’ just means an opportunity to go for the gold. According to one longtime participant, that’s all they’ve been waiting for.
“I think it’s a huge opportunity for the sport to grow and attract more men,” U.S. competitor Bill May told the Associated Press at the World Aquatics Championships. “By keeping men out (of Olympic competition) you’re limiting the sport. By including men you’re going to see an upshift in the popularity and the numbers.
May continued, lauding not only the acceptance of men but also the physical ability required to take on the endeavor. It’s not just about treading water, the veteran swimmer says, and there’s a place for males who want to take part.
“There has always been that misconception that it’s a female-only sport, or that it’s for wimps, or that it’s not a difficult sport,” the 44-year-old May said. “Anyone that has anything negative to say about the sport — boy, female, anyone. Just try it and you’ll know it’s the most difficult sport in the world.”