From a fear of water to double Olympic gold for Carolyn Waldo

Synchronised swimming was in its infancy as an Olympic sport at the Seoul Games in 1988, yet the world was agog with the athletic prowess and grace of its protagonists.

The sport had only joined the Olympic family four years previously yet had already become hugely popular with colourful, patriotic spectators cramming into the Jamsil swimming arena in Seoul.

Great things had already been predicted for Canada’s Carolyn Waldo.

She had led the Canadian contingent with the flagbearing duties for the opening ceremony and she fulfilled expectation by claiming gold in the now defunct solo event.

Waldo had reversed the form of Los Angeles four years earlier where Tracie Ruiz had won gold for the United States and the Canadian silver.Then she and partner Michelle Cameron bid for glory in the duet.

Both suffered from a fear of water in their early years, and embraced swimming to help overcome their phobia. Neither could have predicted the positive effect the therapy could have had on their lives.

Cameron had also won a string of world and Canadian titles but she and Waldo faced intense pressure from American rivals Sarah and Karen Josephson.After a solid technical routine, the Canadians put in a sumptuous performance in the free section to win gold by just .033 of a point from the Americans.

Waldo became the first Canadian woman ever to lift two golds in the same Games and the new event had firmly won a place in people’s hearts.