Staff Writer/November 2020
In 2015, the Artistic Swimming for Athletes with Disabilities (Artistic Swim AWD) formed as a non profit to start a grass roots movement to formally include athletes with disabilities in the sport of synchronized swimming, now called 'Artistic Swimming'. The handful of organizers knew this would be a long, arduous task to globally engage synchronized swim coaches and Federations from different countries, including the USA, to formally add a category with rules to include people with disabilities in competitions nationally and internationally.
The movement started with one Country, Canada, where the very first USA AWD Artistic Swimmer (Raquel Boales) was invited to compete in the Canadian Nationals earning a Gold Medal in the Solo routines category. Since then, the Artistic Swim AWD Organization has engaged and help others to start programs for or include AWD for training, exhibitions and competitions in over 25 Countries. In March of 2020, 6 years after an immense grass roots movement and outreach, the USA Artistic Swim Federation started the process to formally include AWD in their local, regional and national competitions with a separate category with rules to accommodate AWD.
In November of 2020, the USA Artistic Swim Federation formally announced their progress for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and for the inclusion process to begin for AWD as part of the formal family of athletes to be recognized in competitions. Congrats to the Artistic Swim AWD Organization, based in Los Gatos, California (Northern). It is in Northern California, where not only much of the tech innovations are born, but also uniqueness in sports to globally lead the way. It is with great hope now that Artistic Swimming will be on the roster in future Paralympic Games.