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Water ballet in the 1950s.
Although there was a pool in the old Normal building in its latter years, and a pool was in the succeeding Hartwell Hall, the first women's swim group dates from the 1955-1956 academic year when the Dolphins Swim Club was established. For a number of years this was the most prominent women's athletic activity to judge by the coverage in the Saga and the Stylus. The club focused on two areas of activity, water ballet or synchronized swimming and racing, and in the early years the water ballet seems to have been the more significant of the two. For example the March 16, 1962 Stylus reported the following,
Dolphins Club Presents "Ballet On Broadway" Tonight In College Pool Eight girls begin the program as sailors in "Happy Talk," which is followed "Sunday" and "Marie." Nancy Schiffmacher is featured as Joanne Blaisdell's shadow in "16 going on 17." Ten girls put on a unique performance with flashlights and ballons to "Wonderful Guy." Highlighting the evening is the solo by Mary Ellen Witt, State Champion in synchronized swimming...
The Dolphins followed the path all the women's sports did of shifting from "club" to "varsity" status in the mid-1960s. Along the way the water ballet seems to have become less and less significant, and racing more so. An example of an early account of a swim meet from the March 3, 1967 Stylus follows,
Dolphins Win State Meet Female Splashers Dunk Oneonta Last Saturday saw the Brockport State Dolphins defeat the New England Champions (Oneonta) to win the third annual NYS Invitational Swimming Meet for College Women. Brockport totaled 83 points while second place Ithaca grabbed 56... The time between the winning places in most instances was very small. Brockport's success was due mainly to its unchallenged ability to swim as a team... Some excellent coaching and very fine swimming, along with a keen desire to win, generated an inner strength which brought victory.