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Katherine Whitney Curtis

Synchronized swimmer

Died when: 83 years 32 days (997 months)
Star Sign: Gemini


Katherine Whitney Curtis

Katherine Whitney Curtis (January 4, 1897 – July 6, 1980), also spelled "Katharine" or "Kay" Curtis, is widely credited as the originator of synchronized swimming.

While historical figures such as Esther Williams and Annette Kellermann are recognized for similar contributions, important historical details regarding the origin of the word "Synchronized Swimming," its reference to the Olympic sport, and the technical structure of that sport are all credited to Curtis.

The only descendants of Katherine's family survive through her nephew, Gaylord Whitney, in central Ohio.Her great-grand nephew, Jordan Whitney Wei, is both the writer and primary researcher for her first comprehensive biography.

Kay Curtis introduced synchronized swimming in 1934 at the Chicago World's Fair with Norman Ross as her announcer.To her, synchronized swimming was a co-ed sport as it still might be if she hadn't been transferred overseas (1943-1962) with the Red Cross as recreational director.

One of her early disciples was Hal Henning.She staged a production for the Armed Forces in the spectacular fountains and pools and gardens of the palace built by the Kings of the Two Sicilys and used as Allied headquarters in Caserta, Italy.

When she finally returned home in 1962 after observing synchronized swimming all over Europe, her baby was a full-blown sport and has been a dominant American aquatic sport and art form ever since.

Her pioneer book Rhythmic Swimming (1936) was a classic textbook on the sport she originated.Her no-nonsense ability to say it like it is made her not only the tough mother of synchronized swimming but led the late Bill Bachrach to call Kay Curtis "the only person I was ever jealous of in swimming".

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