Passages: Judy McGowan, ISHOF Artistic Swimmer Inductee

swimmer - coach
Photo Courtesy: Ryan Casey

Passages: Judy McGowan, ISHOF Artistic Swimmer Inductee

Judy McGowan, a long-time synchronized and artistic swimming competitor, coach and official, died on March 10.

McGowan was a massive figure in American synchronized swimming for a half-century, including as Founding President of U.S. Synchronized Swimming in 1977. She also headed that organization from 1984-88. She literally wrote the book on the sport, as an editor and primary author in 1979 of the First International Training Manual for Synchronized Swimming Judges and of the first FINA Judging Manual in 1988 (revised in 1992).

Judy McGowan

Photo Courtesy: ISHOF

McGowan was active in the sport for more than a half century. A 2009 inductee to the International Swimming Hall of Fame, she started in the sport in her native Baltimore, Maryland, in 1953. Her connections date back even further, having been coached by 1912 Olympic gold medalist Belle Moore Cameron of Great Britain.

After her competition career, McGowan helped formalize the sport’s structure in the U.S. The incorporation of U.S. Synchronized Swimming helped launch the national team program as well as age-group and Masters competitions. During that time, she was a member of the United States Olympic Committee Board and was a liaison for the Athletes Advisory Council. She served as the chef de mission for the U.S. team at the World Championships in 1982 and was the competition manager for synchronized swimming at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

McGowan taught all over the world, conducting clinics in 37 countries as well as symposia for coaches and officials. She became the first woman to head a FINA Committee when in 1984 she chaired the Technical Synchronized Swimming Committee, a position she held for eight years. She helped the sport adapt and innovate to the use of video and drafted guidelines for technical routines.

McGowan was a judge at three World Championships (1978, 1998 and 2005) and the chief referee at the 1986 and 1991 competitions. She served as an official at three Worlds Cup and the chief referee at four. She worked six Junior World Championships (four as a judge, two as a chief referee), five Pan American Games and was the competition manager at the 1995 World Cup a year before taking that job at the Atlanta Olympic Games.

Notify of

Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Rebecca Fahning
Rebecca Fahning
2 months ago

Looking to get in touch with writers regarding a high school synchro swim team implementing new technology and adaptive learning options.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x