Kay Curtis (USA)

Honor Synchronized / Artistic Swimming Coach (1979)

The information on this page was written the year of their induction.

FOR THE RECORD:  First synchronization of movement in ornamental swimming and floating patterns (1923), stunts and figures (1930), entire performance synchronized to music (1934); First synchronized swim club in the world (Wright College, 1927) and second at Chicago Teachers College (1938); First intercollegiate competition(1939); First large audience synchronized World’s Fair Water Show (Chicago Century of Progress, 1935); First AAU competitive synchronized swimming (Central AAU, 1939); First sanctioned AAU synchronized swimming championships (1940 at Wilmette, Ill. ); First detailed rules (1940 with Clark Leach) adopted nationally at AAU Convention (1941), added to list of AAU National Championships (1945); First International Aquacade (Caserta, Italy, 1945); With Annette Kellerman, first persons honored for synchronized swimming by Helms Hall of Fame (1959); 1978 Distinguished Service Honoree, Aquatic Art Hall of Fame.

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 books “Rhythmic Swimming” and “A Source Book of Water pageantry ” were classic text books 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”.