Aquatic athletes renew unique friendship

Updated: 2013-05-17 10:46

(China Daily)

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 Aquatic athletes renew unique friendship

Jim Gaughran, a coach for the Americans in 1973, watches himself in a film clip from the trip. The film is in the archives of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Photos by Zhang Yuwei / China Daily

In June 1973, a group of 10 swimmers and divers from the United States embarked on an unusual trip to China intended to foster, through sports, the two countries' nascent relationship just a year after President Richard Nixon's historic visit. Besides being one of the first exchanges between the US and China before they established diplomatic ties in 1979, the trip was significant because the Americans faced possible sanctions by their sports' governing body, the International Swimming Federation, which at the time didn't recognize the People's Republic of China.

Last weekend, athletes from both sides gathered at the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Florida to celebrate their special friendship formed 40 years ago.

 Aquatic athletes renew unique friendship

Retired US diplomat Nicholas Platt (left) is introduced by ISHOF President Bruce Wigo at a presentation on the 1973 visit to China by American swimmers and divers. Platt served in the liaison office of the US government in Beijing at the time and accompanied the athletes during their trip.

 Aquatic athletes renew unique friendship

Bruce Wigo (center), president of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, watches as Ingrid Daland (left), a swim coach on the US team's 1973 visit, signs a T-shirt for a guest at ISHOF's induction ceremony on May 11.

 Aquatic athletes renew unique friendship

Micki King (left), a diver on the 1973 trip who had won a gold medal at the 1972 Summer Olympics, reunites in Fort Lauderdale with a friend she made 40 years ago, Liang Xiuying, a former diver on China's national team.

Aquatic athletes renew unique friendship 

Edward Bell, husband of retired American swimmer and actress Esther Williams, accepts a painting of his wife from Liang Xiuying, an artist who swam for China's national team during the 1970s. The two were on hand for the May 10 presentation of ISHOF's first Esther awards, which honored the Chinese movies Enter the Water Dragon (1959) and Diving Girls (1964).

 Aquatic athletes renew unique friendship

Qi Lieyun (left) and Mu Xiangxiong chat at the ceremony in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where they were inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame on May 13. Qi, also known as Chi Lieh Yung, is the first Chinese swimmer to set an official world record, with a time of 1:11.6 in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1957. Mu was inducted along with his son, Mu Chengkuan, whose swimming careers were chronicled in a movie in China.

 Aquatic athletes renew unique friendship

Former swimmers and divers from countries including the US, China, Germany and Australia gather for their induction into the International Swimming Hall of Fame on May 11.

 Aquatic athletes renew unique friendship

Chinese swimmers sign their names on a banner bearing American and Chinese flags, a memento of last weekend's reunion of participants in the 1973 visit.

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