Chris Carver (USA)
Honor Coach (2023)
2023 Honor Coach
FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 2004 Head Synchronized Swimming Coach: 2 bronze (Duet and Team); 2000 Head Synchronized Swimming Coach: 4th (Duet), 5th (Team); 1996 Co-head Synchronized Swimming Coach: gold (Team); Coached 22 Olympic Synchronized Swimmers; WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: 2017 Coach: Mixed Duet, 2 bronze (Mixed Duet Technical and Free Routines), 2015 Coach: Mixed Duet, gold (Mixed Duet Technical Routine), silver (Mixed Duet Free Routine); 1994: USA completes Grand Slam with Becky Dyroen winning all events and wins more gold medals than any US athlete at the championships; PAN AMERICAN GAMES: 1991 – Becky Dyroen wins gold (Solo); 1995 – USA completes a Grand Slam (Figures, Solo, Duet and Team); 1999 – 2 silver (Duet and Team), 2003 – 2 gold (Duet and Team); WORLD CUPS: 1995 – 3 gold (Solo, Duet and Team); Junior World Championships – 1991 – 3 gold (Solo, Duet and Team); Coached the Santa Clara Aquamaids to 17 USA National Team Championships.
Chris Carver is a ground-breaking synchronized swimming choreographer and club coach of the world-renowned Santa Clara Aquamaids. As the co-head coach of the U.S. National Team, the team won every gold medal in international competition between the 1991 Pan American Games and the 1996 Olympic Games.
Her life journey has had a number of twists and turns, and her introduction in synchronized swimming came in middle school, where a unit was introduced for the first time. It was an instant love affair that would last a lifetime; After all, it offered the perfect melding of her musicality and love of the water. It also was reinforced by her childhood idol Esther Williams. It wasn’t her prowess as a synchronized swimmer, but ultimately her extraordinary musical creativity, expertise and pursuit of excellence that led to Chris’s contributions to the sport.
In 1968, Chris was asked by her neighbor to start a class in “water ballet” at the Cloverdale Cabana Club in Campbell, CA, and the trajectory of her life was changed forever. The Dolphinettes water shows became so popular with the Greater Campbell Community that the city soon sponsored the team. The Campbell Dolphinettes even began presenting at festivals of the International Academy of Aquatic Art.
A few miles down the road, the Santa Clara Aquamaids had established themselves as a powerhouse in synchronized swimming. Their coach, Kay Vilen, was impressed by Chris’s program, and in 1980 asked her to join the Aquamaids’ staff, placing Chris in charge of the 10 and under program. Eventually their videos were used around the world to start synchronized swimming programs. Four of the original swimmers were coached by Chris from their first day in the pool all the way to the top of the podium at the 1996 Olympic Games. Her swimmer Becky Dyroen-Lancer won all four gold medals at the 1994 World Championships and repeated the grand slam another eight times for which Becky earned the FINA Prize Eminence. Becky is the only synchronized swimmer ever to be honored with the FINA Prize. Becky and her partner, Hall of Famer Jill Sudduth, were undefeated in duet competition for five years. They missed their opportunity to win a gold medal at the Olympics, as the duet was replaced by the team event in 1996.
In 1987, Chris was named to the national team coaching staff along with Gail Emery of the Walnut Creek Aquanuts, and joined by Charlotte Davis, National Team Director. Chris was mentored by the best, and under this triumvirate, from 1987 – 1996, the national team was undefeated internationally. With four of her club swimmers on the 1996 Olympic Team, Carver choreographed the USA Team to win the Olympics’ first gold in the team event, earning the first perfect score of 100 points in Olympic history. This achievement has not been duplicated. Seven of the nine members of the 2000 USA Olympic Team were Carver’s own swimmers, as were eight of the nine in 2004, including Alison Bartosik and Anna Kozlova, who won the bronze medal in the duet event.
For many years, Carver has long been an advocate for men in synchronized swimming. In 1996, Chris started coaching Bill May, who eventually became the first male to compete for the Aquamaids. Not allowed to compete in FINA sanctioned events, he won first prize in duet competitions at the 1999 Swiss Open and French Open. Bill was named USA Synchronized Swimming’s Athlete of the Year in 1998 and 1999. After nearly a 10-year retirement, performing for Cirque de Soleil in Las Vegas, May returned to train under Carver with Christina Jones and Kristina Lum. May and Jones went on to win the first gold medals in Mixed Duets Technical Routine at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan. Bill May thus became the first man to ever win a gold medal in synchronized swimming at a FINA World Championships. May and Lum won the silver medal in the Mixed Duet Free Routine. Bill was honored by FINA as the Top Male Synchronized Swimmer in 2015.
Overall, Chris Carver has produced more than 50% of the USA’s Synchronized Swimming Olympians since 1996. In an era when the USA was synchro’s world leader, Carver was named the USA Synchronized Swimming Coach of the Year 14 consecutive years. The Santa Clara Aquamaids have won 17 US National Team Championships since 1985. Chris has also been generous with her time and sharing her knowledge by giving coaching clinics around the world. Her club has also been generous in hosting other athletes from around the world.