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Out Of Synch: Male Synchronized Swimming Team Barred From London Olympics

Their sport requires precision, teamwork and stamina.

But no matter how hard they train, no matter how good they are, this team isn’t welcome at the 2012 Summer Games, for one simple reason: They’re men.

Synchronized swimming was first demonstrated at the Olympics in 1952, and didn’t become an official sport until 1984, but then it was only opened to female teams.

The Out To Swim Angels are Britain’s only male synchronized swimming team. Last month they wrote a letter to the International Olympic Committee and FINA, swimming’s governing body, arguing that men deserve to compete in synchronized swimming as well.

“There’s still this same of sort old mindset. Oh well it’s pretty, it’s for girls,” said team member Ronan Daly. “But no, we want to challenge that and say boys can do this as well.”

These guys are not the first. Californian Kenyon Smith was one of best synchronized swimmers in the world, when he was blocked out from entering the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Four years earlier, Bill May, who won several awards swimming with women, was barred from the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

Now these Brits say enough is enough. In their letter to the IOC, they’re asking that the rules be changed in time for the Summer Games in Rio in 2016.

“I think it’s incredibly ironic that the Olympics are all about equality, yet we don’t have a chance to compete, and other mens’ teams don’t have a chance to participate,” said team captain Stephen Adshead.

Synchronized swimming was glamorized by actress and professional swimmer Esther Williams in the 1940s and early 1950s. In the 1980s, comedians Martin Short and Harry Shearer poked fun at the idea of men competing in the sport on Saturday Night Live.

The Out To Swim Angels said to get the public to take them seriously, all they need to do is demonstrate their routine. The swimmers never touch the bottom of the pool, and their moves require incredible core strength.

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