Swimming Pretty

The Untold Story of Women in Water

16 July 2024

Vicki Valosik (Author)


From vaudeville tank shows to the Olympic arena, a ground-breaking history of how women found synchronicity—and power—in water

Since the nineteenth century, tensions between beauty and strength, aesthetics and athleticism have both impeded and propelled the careers of female swimmers—none more so than synchronised swimmers. In this deeply researched history, Vicki Valosik traces a century of aquatic performance for the first time, from Victorian variety theatre and carnival shows to the 1984 elevation of synchronised swimming to Olympic status. Writing in eloquent prose, Valosik shows how early starlets like Lurline the Water Queen and Annette Kellerman boldly challenged restrictive codes set for women in water; more than just bathing beauties, they influenced lifesaving and physical-education programmes, dropped drowning rates and paved the way for new generations of female swimming athletes. Brimming with reverence and mesmerising detail, Swimming Pretty finally foregrounds an essential sport.



160 x 236 mm • 432 pages


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