Bill May did not make the final Olympic roster for the USA artistic swimming team. GETTY IMAGES

Bill May was vying to be the first man to compete in artistic swimming in this upcoming Olympic Games in Paris. After a rule change in December 2022 by World Aquatics opened the door for men to compete in the sport, allowing up to two per National Olympic Team.

Despite helping his team win silver in last year’s 2023 World Aquatics Championships, becoming the first American male to climb the world medal podium in a team event, and a bronze in the Paris Artistic Swimming World Cup last month, May was noticeably left out when USA Artistic Swimming shared their Olympic roster last week.

The move comes as a blow to 45-year-old, who took up the sport when he was just 10 and has been a pioneer and advocate for men’s inclusion in the sport. With no prospect For men at the swimming world championships or the Olympics, May retired in 2004 only to make a comeback after receiving news that men would be allowed to compete in the 2015 World Championships in Kazan.

That year, he went on to make history by becoming the first man ever to win artistic swimming gold at a major event by winning the mixed duet technical routine gold with his partner Christina Jones. May went on to medal at world championships in Budapest in 2017, Fukuoka in 2023 and Doha in February this year. 

"It has been a long and calculated process of hard choices since Doha. Our entire 12-athlete squad qualified the team in February, each one making history and bringing renewed hope to our country. Nobody can take this away from them; these 12 will forever be our heroes," said Head Coach Andrea Fuentes in the official statement announcing the final Olympic roster.

The United States is sending a full team of nine artistic swimming athletes to the Olympic Games for the first time in 16 years, having qualified for both the duet and team competitions. The athletes representing Team USA include Anita Alvarez, Daniella Ramirez, Megumi Field (duet), Jamie Czarkowski (duet), Jacklyn Luu, Audrey Kwon, Keana Hunter, Ruby Remati, and Calista Liu serving as Olympic alternate. 

World Aquatics has made its disappointment public, saying it was very disappointed that there would be no men in the Olympic competition. "This should have been a landmark moment for the sport," the global federation reacted in a statement.

"We understand that it was always going to be a challenge for men to earn a spot on a team in time for Paris 2024, considering that their eligibility was only confirmed 18 months ago, but we were still hopeful that some would succeed."