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.
FINA Technical Synchronized Swimming Committee
2012 Paragon Award / Synchronized Swimming
Stephanie Haeberli grew up in Switzerland and spent her youth participating in many sport activities from skiing to classical ballet. At the age of 18, she heard about synchronized swimming and joined the synchro club in Bern. While she was in school, she started reorganizing the club and changed the goals from water ballet and shows to more of a competitive sport activity in the club.
From 1963 to 1974, she was an active synchronized swimming competitor winning the silver medal duet
at the Swiss Championships St. Moritz in 1973. From 1969 to 1985, she was a synchronized swimming coach at all levels. Since 1975, she has been the youth and sport expert for the Swiss recreational program. From 1972 to 2000, she was the President of Synchronized Swimming in Switzerland, a member of the Bureau of the Swiss Swimming Federation and initiator of Swiss Open Synchronized Swimming Championships in 1976. Stephanie has also been a synchronized swimming judge and referee at national and international levels since 1973, serving at the Olympic Games, World Championships and other FINA and European events.
From 1970 to 1991, she was a member of the Board of The Bern Polo Club which included the aquatic disciplines of swimming, diving and synchronized swimming. She served in positions of responsibility such as in synchronized swimming, becoming an executive member, treasurer and more. Since 1973, she has organized, lectured and participated at judges and coaches clinics at all levels for FINA, LEN and the Swiss Federation. She is a FINA Evaluator for the Olympic Games, World Championships, European Championships and Pan American Games. From 1975 to 1985, she was Head of the Swiss Delegation for all FINA disciplines at World Championships and European Championships.
Stephanie’s greatest contribution to synchronized swimming was her involvement with FINA’s Technical Synchronized Swimming Committee. For 28 years from 1981 to 2009, she served FINA’s TSSC three years as member, eight years as Honorary Secretary, four years as Vice-Chairman and 13 years as Chairman.
As Chairman of the FINA TSSC, her major accomplishments and changes to synchronized swimming include:
• The deletion of figures competition from senior competition and replacing it with technical routines
(initiated by Judy McGowan and Mustapha Larfaoui)
• Adding a Free Combination as a new medal event to the program
• Changing the goal to receive higher scores from time spent being underwater to the weight that can be lifted above the water.
• Establishing a combination of human evaluation and statistical computer analysis for qualifying judges.
• Separating Technical Routines and Free Routines as two medal events at World Championships.
In 1990, Stephanie was awarded the International Olympic Committee Prize for Outstanding Contributions to Female Olympic Sports. In 1996, she was awarded the FINA Gold Pin for her efforts in synchronized swimming.