A gay synchronised swimming team has been banned from performing at an international meet, as the International Olympic Committee continues to insist that the sport is for females only.
The ten men and four women squad from the San Francisco Tsunami Swim Club had been invited to perform a routine at the FINA Masters in Stamford, California this week. Local organisers knew that the male team would not be able to compete organised a demonstration of their routine.
Once the Federation Internationale de Natation Amateur (FINA) officials found out about the gay male team, however, they moved to stop the performance.
The governing body for aquatic sports and their World Masters Championships insist that synchronised swimming is for females.
The Tsunami Tsynchro team have competed in national competition and numerous gay and lesbian swim events, as well as the Gay Games. Recent routines have featured a Beastie Boys’ soundtrack and a Janet Jackson medley.
While men have been competing in mixed and single-sex teams since for over 20 years, the IOC and FINA refuse to allow male or mixed teams to compete. There has been concern that an ‘over-flamboyant’ approach to the sport could tarnish its image.
Founder member of the Tsunami Tsynchros Bob Wheeler defended their approach, he told the San Jose Mercury News, “Free routine’s all about creativity. We don’t wear floral bathing caps. We have small Speedos usually, and we deck ’em out with glitter and things like that.”