Olympics

Russia's Natalia Ischenko and Svetlana Romashina in action in the Duets Technical Routine   (Photo b...
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A Look At The Best Olympics Synchronized Swimming Costumes

Can anyone but a synchronized swimmer pull off a swimsuit with Michael Jackson’s face on it?

While synchronized swimming, or artistic swimming as it is now known by Olympic organizers, isn’t as popular today as it was during its heyday in the 1950s, those who do tune in to the Olympics to watch the sport’s various events often come away with the same thought: Can you believe those costumes? Over the years, synchronized swimmers have adopted increasingly elaborate and creative costumes.

Although Hollywood stars like Esther Williams helped make synchronized swimming popular in the 1950s, the sport didn’t become an official Olympic sport until three decades later. In the early years of Olympic synchronized swimming, competitors’ costumes were far less intricate and embellished than the suits we see now. In fact, synchronized swimming costumes at the 1984 Olympics tended to feature just one or two colors and simple patterns such as stripes or polka dots.

Over time, however, competitors began opting for more elaborate rhinestone-encrusted costumes. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, for example, Russia’s duet team sparkled in glittery silver-and-black suits embellished with Michael Jackson’s face. It was the perfect complement to their routine, which also paid homage to the King of Pop.

The current Olympic Games happening in Tokyo have also brought spectators a number of fantastically creative synchronized swimming costumes. Svetlana Kolesnichenko and Svetlana Romashina of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) took home the gold medal in artistic swimming’s duet competition wearing suits that featured giant spiders.

Dive in below for a look at some of the best Olympic synchronized swimming costumes:

USA At The 1984 Olympics

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Although the sport has a history Smithsonian Magazine can trace all the way back to ancient Rome, synchronized swimming only became an official Olympic event in 1984. But in the sport’s early Olympic years, costumes were significantly more understated than the suits we see today. In synchronized swimming’s Olympic debut, Candy Costie and Tracie Ruiz of the United States donned suits that featured a giant sparkly purple star over a half solid white, half pink-polka-dot design for their gold-medal winning routine.

Canada At The 1988 Olympics

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In 1988, it was Canada’s Michelle Cameron and Carolyn Waldo who took home the gold in synchronized swimming’s duet event. The pair wore black suits with a diamond pattern made from neon lime green and pink, two colors guaranteed to catch spectators’ eyes even from underwater.

USA At The 1992 Olympic Trials

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Trimmed in fringe, the red-white-and-blue costume Kristen Bobb-Sprague wore for the 1992 Olympic trials appeared to be inspired by the Wild West.

Japan At The 1996 Olympics

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Do swimsuits get any brighter than the neon green ones Japan’s women’s synchronized swimming team wore at the 1996 Games?

USA At The 2000 Olympics

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Yes, that does appear to be Old Man Winter blowing an icy gust of wind across the torso of a member of the 2000 USA Synchronized swimming team. Sparkly white snowflakes and a bright pink lightning bolt complete the design of the suit.

Russia At The 2004 Olympics

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At the 2004 Games in Athens, the suits worn by Russia’s synchronized swimming women's team seemed to almost glow when underwater. Russia ultimately went on to win the gold medal in the team event.

Greece At The 2008 Olympics

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At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Despoina Solomou and Evanthia Makrygianni of Greece brought formal wear into the pool with costumes that resembled a loosened tie and button-up collared shirt.

Brazil At The 2012 Olympics

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In 2012, Brazil's Lara Teixeira and Nayara Figueira used thousands of rhinestones to illustrate various parts of the human anatomy, including the heart and a complex web of veins and arteries. If you look closely you’ll even find their swim caps resembled brains.

China At The 2016 Olympics

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A member of China’s women’s synchronized swimming team is tossed into the air during competition at the 2016 Olympics. For their free routine, the team wore sparkly suits that appeared to include design motifs inspired by Chinese dragons.

Mexico At The 2021 Olympics

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Nuria Diosdado and Joana Jiménez García of Mexico competed at the Tokyo Games in a black-and-white suit embellished with two Koi fish. According to PopSugar, the design of the suits was inspired by Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender and the two koi fish are actually Tui and La, two characters from the show known to be the moon spirit and the fish spirit, respectively.