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First male competitor dives into Japan synchronized swimming championships 

Posted by | May 3, 2017 | synchronized swimming

May 3, 2017 (Mainichi Japan)Japanese version Yotaro Sato, center, performs as a member of the Joyful Athletic Club team during the free combination event at the Japan Open Synchronized Swimming Championships on April 29, 2017, at the Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center. (Mainichi)The Japan Open Synchronized Swimming Championships saw its first male participant on April 29, a sign of growing interest from men in the sport.Yotaro Sato, a first year student from Yatabe Junior High School in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, attracted attention for his performance in the “free combination” event alongside eight female teammates. He wowed the audience with his lively leg techniques and his brisk movements across the surface of the water.Sato discovered synchronized swimming at the age of 5, when the coach of his elder sister’s club invited him to join. Being completely surrounded by girls made him hesitant at first, but the charm of dancing in the water won him over. Sato made his way to the pool five times a week and eventually competed in the national junior championships. This spring, he started junior high school and passed the qualification to compete in the Japan Open as a member of Joyful Athletic Club.After water performer Atsushi Abe was selected as part of a mixed-pair duet for the 2015 World Aquatic Championships in Kazan, Russia, the Japan Swimming Federation began allowing male athletes to compete in events, and opened a biannual training course for male beginners in 2016.There are now around 10 male athletes registered with the Japan Swimming Federation, including Sato. The group hopes to expand men’s participation in the events, stating, “We don’t want to just hold events to experience synchronized swimming, but also recommend clubs where athletes can practice.” Japanese synchronized swimming team head coach Masayo Imura welcomed male participation on the team. “Sports are for everyone — male or female, it doesn’t matter,” she said.The Olympic Agenda 2020 for reform of the Games released in 2014 declared that it “encouraged the adoption of a mixed-pair group synchronized swimming event.” Currently, Olympic synchronized swimming is limited to women, and the International Swimming Federation is proposing the addition of a new mixed-pair event to the 2020 Tokyo Games.Sato is excited by the idea, saying, “I want to participate in an international competition someday.”

Source: First male competitor dives into Japan synchronized swimming championships – The Mainichi