The Annual Paragon Awards, sponsored by Pentair Aquatic Systems, are presented for outstanding contributions to: Competitive Swimming, Water Polo, Competitive Diving, Aquatic Safety, Synchronized Swimming and Recreational Swimming.
Safeya "Sohpie"Ahmed Sarwat (EGY)
2010 Paragon Award – Synchronized Swimming
Born in Egypt, Sophie Sarwat dedicated over fifty-five years of her life for women's sport in Egypt, Africa, and worldwide. She was a maverick, the first Egyptian women to start a business in Egypt (hairdressers shop for ladies) which explains her unique desire to promote and represent women in sport.
As a competitor, she was the Egyptian national swimming, diving, and tennis champion and a member of her basketball, handball, squash, and bridge teams. But her main love was synchronized swimming, which
she established and nurtured in Egypt. As early as 1952, she became the volunteer coach for synchro at the Heliopolis Sporting Club bringing teams from the USA, Germany, and Japan to compete in her country. Beginning in 1980, she become the chair of Egypt's TSSC and served on the Egyptian Swimming Federation from 1980-1996. She became a member of the FINA TSSC from 1982 to 1984. She was Chair of the CANA and COMEN TSSC and in 1987 organized FINA Cup Egypt. To expand her knowledge, she attended FINA Synchro judging clinics in four countries and was soon presenting lectures on the sport in countries throughout the Mediterranean and Asia regions including Russia, Iran, and Greece. As a coach, she was able to take a team of Egyptian swimmers abroad for the first time (1964). In 2001, she became Chair of the International Affairs of the Egyptian Olympic Committee. She received the FINA Gold and Silver Awards and an appreciation from the IOC.
Her efforts to promote synchronized swimming are not only witnessed in Egypt, but she has also helped South Africa, Algeria, and Iran to establish the sport. She is a role model for many Egyptian women in whom she has instilled the concept of giving and sharing and above all, the ideals of the Olympic spirit. She is well known for her determination and fighting spirit when it comes to women's sport.
Sophie died in October of 2009, before she received this recognition. She is a legend in her own country.