American synchronized swimmer
Considered one of the most decorated synchronized swimmers and one of the best in the sport, Becky Dyroen-Lancer won championship awards and Olympic gold medals throughout the 1990s. Starting out life with a heart condition, Lancer recovered and came to dominate her sport, achieving consecutive grand slam titles in
solo, duet, figures, and team events in synchronized swimming. A member of the Santa Clara Aquamaids, Lancer is known as a dedicated athlete who practices more than six hours a day.
A String of Championships
Becky Dyroen-Lancer overcame a tough-and-go beginning to become an incredible athlete. She has joked that she was born to be a swimmer and hold her breath underwater because she was born a blue baby who was not breathing after birth. She was diagnosed with a heart defect and at age five had open heart surgery. Once she recovered, her parents were eager to see her do the same activities as other children. At age ten, Lancer delved into the same sport as her mother, Paula, who had been a synchronized swimmer. So did Lancer's sister, Suzannah Dyroen Bianco.
Lancer grew up in Campbell, California, attended West Valley College, and studied secondary education at De Anza College. In 1984, synchronized swimming entered the Olympic Games as a Summer event, just in time for Lancer, who in 1989 had won the first in a long string of titles—Junior World Solo, Duet and Team champion. The next year she received the silver medal at the Moscow Invitational Duet and began a five-year streak as USSS All-American.
The year 1991 held not only a gold medal solo performance at the Pan American Games and recognition as Coca-Cola Athlete of the Day, but four more championships in solo, duet, and team competitions, including the FINA World Cup, French Open, and World Aquatics Team. In both 1991 and 1992, Lancer received a silver medal at the US National. She also placed second at the 1992 US Olympic Trials solo event.
On January 9, 1993, Lancer married Kevin Lancer, a retired ballet dancer, who helps with her choreography. That same year, she was part of the US team that swept all the events at the Synchronized Swimming World Cup.
Lancer, who represented the synchronized swimming category, was one of fifty nominees for the 1993 Amateur Athletics Union's Sullivan Award for top amateur athlete in the country. Although she didn't receive the award, there were plenty of others that graced her mantle. Some of her numerous accomplishments that year were USOC Top Ten Sports Woman of the Year, German Open, World Cup, and Swimming World 's World Synchronized Swimmer of the Year. For three consecutive years from 1993 to 1995, Lancer received the Edna Hines Award and the Kay Vilen High Point Individual Award, and was named USSS Athlete of the Year.
Synchronized swimming incorporates elements of gymnastics, figure skating, and aerobics all performed in water. Lancer practices six to eight hours a day, six days a week to perfect her grace and strength in the sport, as well as her concentration. Her coach Chris Carver noted in The Olympic Fact Book, "I always knew that Becky was good, but you never know about the mind. She has that, too. She's amazing, because she continues to grow. That's a coach's dream."
|1971||Born on February 19 in San Jose, California|
|1976||Undergoes surgery to repair a heart defect|
|1981||Takes up synchronized swimming|
|1989||Wins first in long career of championships|
|1993||Marries Kevin Lancer on January 9, 1993|
|1996||With her sister Suzannah, wins gold at the Atlanta Olympics|
|1998||Synchronized swimming choreographer for "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me"|
World and Olympic Gold Medals
In the 1994 Goodwill Games, Lancer won the silver medal as a soloist, won the figures portion, and with teammate Jill Sudduth, she earned the gold medal for the duet event. Lancer continued to strike gold at the 1994 World Aquatic Championships in Rome by winning three gold medals, more than any other American, for the solo, duet, and team titles. This performance made her the first American in more than twenty years to win all three events at the world championships. Not since Tracie Ruiz in 1982 had a U.S. synchronized swimmer won the solo event. Incidentally, the U.S. team that year swept all the events, which included swimming, diving, and water polo.
Lancer saw another prolific award season in 1994 with championships in the French Open, French Winter Nationals, Jantzen Nationals, and World championships. Repeat performances included two more USOC Top Ten Sports Woman of the Year award and Swimming World's World Synchronized Swimmer of the Year for years 1994 and 1995. She was also a three-time Women's Sports Foundation SportsWoman of the Year finalist.
In 1995, among even more championships in the US and around the world, including the Pan American Games, Lancer won the FINA Prize, the highest award given to an aquatics sports participant. In the Nations-Bank Synchronized Swimming World Cup in Atlanta, Team USA swept the events and Lancer achieved her ninth consecutive grand slam since 1992 in solo, duet, team, and figures events. In the US Olympic Team trials that year, Lancer won first place by receiving a perfect score of ten 10s, an American record and the first for a competitor in a major international competition.
Beginning with the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, the Olympics Committee eliminated the synchronized swimming solo, duet, and figures competitions and settled for a single 10-member team competition. Under the new rules, Lancer lost her chance to win gold in solo and duet, yet she was delighted when her sister, Suzannah Bianco, earned the 10th and final spot on the team. As expected, the US Team won the Olympic gold medal.
Lancer is still active in her sport and in community projects. She coaches the Cerritos Synchronettes synchronized swimming club team in Southern California for girls aged six to seventeen. She is an Avon Products representative who has appeared in print ads for the beauty products company. Having undergone open heart surgery as a child, she now volunteers for the American Heart Association.
She has been a member of USSS Executive Committee, and on July 20, 2000, Lancer participated with other champion female athletes in the Women Sports Foundation's second annual awards luncheon in Hollywood. She continues to be a member of the Santa Clara Aquamaids.
Dipping her toe into pop culture, Lancer is credited as the synchronized swimming choreographer for the 1998 movie Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, and she was a member of the cast of Cirque Du Soleil's water performance O. Her hobbies include ballet, art, costume design, bicycling, and horticulture.
Awards and Accomplishments
|1989||Junior World Solo, Duet, and Team champion|
|1990||Moscow Invitational Duet silver medal|
|1991||FINA World Cup Team champion|
|1991||French Open Solo, Duet, and Team champion|
|1991||Mallorca Open Duet and Team champion|
|1991||Pan American Games Solo gold medal|
|1991||World Aquatics Team champion|
|1991-92||U.S. National Solo, Duet, and Team silver medal|
|1992||Loano Cup Duet silver medal|
|1992||Swiss Open Solo, Duet, Team, and Figures champion|
|1992||U.S. Olympic Trials Solo silver medal|
|1993||Nominee for the Sullivan Award|
|1993||German Open Solo and Duet champion|
|1993||May USOC Athlete of the Month|
|1993||U.S. National Solo, Duet, and Team champion|
|1993||World Cup Solo, Duet, Team, and Figures champion|
|1993-94||Synchronized Swimming World Cup Solo, Duet, Team, and Figures gold medal|
|1993-95||Edna Hines Award|
|1993-95||Kay Vilen High Point Individual Award|
|1993-95||Swimming World's World Synchronized Swimmer of the Year|
|1993-95||USOC Top Ten SportsWoman of the Year|
|1993-95||USSS Athlete of the Year Women's Sports Foundation|
|1993-95||Women's Sports Foundation Sports Woman of the Year finalist|
|1994||French Open Solo, Duet, Team, and Figures champion|
|1994||French Winter Nationals Solo and Duet champion|
|1994||Goodwill Games Solo silver medal, Duet gold medal|
|1994||May and September USOC Athlete of the Month|
|1994||World Aquatic Championships|
|1994||World Solo, Duet, Team, and Figures champion|
|1994-95||Jantzen Nationals Solo, Duet, Team, and Figures champion|
|1995||NationsBank World Cup Solo, Duet, Team, and Figures champion, Lancer's 9th consecutive grand slam|
|1995||Pan American Games Solo, Duet, Team, and Figures champion|
|1995||U.S. Olympic Team Trials first place|
|1996||Atlanta Olympic Team gold medal|
Whether she's performing solo, with a teammate in a duet, or sharing the spotlight as a member of a group, Becky Dyroen-Lancer dominated the sport of synchronized swimming.
Nelson, Rebecca. Olympic Fact Book. Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1996.
Sherrow, Victoria. Encyclopedia of Women and Sports. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO Inc., 1996.
Lazzeretti, Craig. "They say Becky Dyroen-Lancer was born to be a synchronized swimmer."Contra Costa Times (July 13, 1996): 713.
Cerritos Synchronettes, http://www.angelfire.com/ca2/cerritossynchroteam/teaminfo.html (January 15, 2003).
Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/sports/olympics/longterm/synchro/dyroen.htm (January 15, 2003).
Sketch by Lorraine Savage