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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 April, 2004, 14:08 GMT 15:08 UK
Shift in sync power
Russia perform at the 2003 World Championships
Russia are the present Olympic and World champions
The history of the development of synchronised swimming is as murky as the water the sport is performed in is clear.

Americans, Australians and Canadians all claim credit for founding the sport in the early 1900s.

However, the first record of the sport - then known as figure or ornamental swimming - dates to 1891 when a troupe of male swimmers performed in Berlin.

Annette Kellerman, Katherine Curtis and Esther Williams are all, in various ways, responsible for the development of synchonised swimming as a female sport.

Kellerman, an Australian, wowed the world with a performance of water ballet in a New York tank in 1907.

Curtis gave the sport its modern name in the 1930s and Williams helped make it mainstream with a host of "aqua musicals".

However, despite being included as a demonstration sport following the Second World War, it was forced to wait until 1984 before finally being given full status in the Olympic family.

Debate rages over the sporting merits of synchronised swimming, but it has proved a popular addition to the aquatics programme.

Initially the meet consisted of solo and duet disciplines before the team event was included at the Atlanta Olympics - at the expense of the solo.

Prior to Sydney, the USA and Canada won every gold on offer, but with their top stars retiring, Russia took advantage to win both golds in 2000.

Japan won two silvers four years ago to take their overall haul to 10, more than any other country, although they are yet to win a gold.

MEDAL TABLE (Since 1984)
Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
USA 6 2 0 8
Canada 3 5 1 9
Russia 2 0 0 2
Japan 0 3 7 10
France 0 0 1 1





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