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Olympians & Champions:
Swimming & Diving

Compiled By GayToday

Atlanta, Georgia--U.S. Olympic diver David Pichler and U.S. Olympic swimmer Bruce Hayes will return to the Atlanta Olympic Pool this June 18-20, joining more than 1,000 swimmers, divers and water polo players at the Tenth International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics (IGLA) Championships.

Both U.S. Olympians know the Atlanta facility well. A finalist in the 10-meter platform event in Atlanta, Pichler moved up in the last round to finish sixth. Hayes, gold medalist in the 4 x 200m freestyle relay at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, was Assistant Competition Manager for Swimming in 1996.

Pichler will not compete but is appearing courtesy of Speedo, an official sponsor of the 1999 IGLA Championships. Pichler has been a long-time member of Team Speedo, a group of elite athletes endorsed by the swimwear giant.

"As a gay athlete, I am proud to represent Speedo at the IGLA Championships," said Pichler. "I've heard good things about this event and I hope to assist in making this the best year ever."

Ten years ago there were no out gay Olympic swimmers or divers at the IGLA Championships or the Gay Games. Hayes was the first, at the 1990 Gay Games in Vancouver.

Gay female Olympians have yet to take the plunge, but since 1990 male participants have included American swimmers Mark Chatfield (Munich, 1972) and Dan Veatch (Seoul, 1988), Dutch swimmer Peter Prijdekker (Munich, 1972), and Canadian diver Scott Cranham (Montreal, 1976). Other out Olympians now include Australian diver Craig Rogerson (Seoul, 1988; Barcelona, 1992) and Canadian swimmer Mark Tewksbury (Seoul, 1988; Barcelona, 1992).

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"It's about time," Hayes laughed. "It's not like we didn't know there were others out there besides me. We've almost got enough now for a glee club."

"Just in the last year, Patrick Jeffrey and Mark Tewksbury have come out," said Hayes. "I think the environment has become more comfortable in the last ten years, and IGLA and the Gay Games are a part of that."

Numerous world and national masters swimming marks have been set at IGLA Championships, but competitors of all abilities are welcome and encouraged to participate.

"IGLA has done an amazing job over the years getting gays and lesbians to hop back into the water or onto the diving boards as adults," said Meet Director John Brown. "But sheer numbers sometimes isn't enough to get the attention of the public, so we're specifically inviting Olympians to come to Atlanta this year. It's a natural tie-in with the Olympic pool."

This will be the second IGLA Championships at an Olympic facility, following Montreal in 1995. The 2000 Championships will be held in the remodeled 1924 Paris Olympic pool, and the 2002 Gay Games aquatics competition will be in the Sydney Olympic facility at Homebush.

"We're grateful to Speedo for bringing David to the meet," said Sponsorship Director Jan Suchomski. "Speedo is the world's premiere swimwear brand, and is known for fashion, quality and innovation." Speedo was also a sponsor of the recent GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles, New York, and Washington D.C.

This year's IGLA Championships host is the Atlanta Rainbow Trout, a predominantly gay and lesbian masters team of more than 100 members.

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