FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida, June 6. IN June of 1973, ten swimmers and divers from the United States travelled to China. The trip was planned just a year after President Richard Nixon's historic visit, with the goal to use sports to foster the two countries' growing relationship.
The three-week trip marked one of the first exchanges between the US and China before the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1979. The trip was risky for the US athletes involved because of possible disciplinary action from FINA, who at the time didn't recognize the People's Republic of China.
Last month, athletes from China and the US gathered at the International Swimming Hall of Fame to celebrate the trip's 40-year anniversary. ISHOF President Bruce Wigo initially planned the gathering as an American-only event. “As I learned more about Chinese swimming history and Olympic history, there is a great story to tell about that development,” Wigo said, as reported by China Daily. The athletes' reunion made the front page of the local print newspaper.
“The feeling of 40 years ago that tied us together is very emotional and it's very difficult to put in words,” said 1972 Olympic gold medalist diver Micki King, one of the trip's participants. “We haven't forgotten and they haven't forgotten.”