Your Guide to Watersports in the 2024 Summer Olympics


The only way to visit the 2020 Olympics was virtually, due to the pandemic. Not so for the 2024 Games in Paris, France. In-person tickets have been on sale since last year for this XXXIII (33rd) Olympiad, which takes place from July 26 to August 11.

However, if you want to sit front-row center for all the watersports competitions, that will be an Olympic effort in itself. Contests are spread out from Paris to cities throughout France and across the globe as far as Tahiti for surfing, to provide the most competitive conditions. Armchair fans can watch live broadcasts on NBC’s streaming platform Peacock. Here’s the scoop on what’s happening when and where, and the top U.S. names to watch in watersports this summer:

Courtesy of Team USA Artistic Swimming


August 5-10, 2024 Aquatics Centre Saint-Denis, France (12 miles north of Paris)

Like dancing in the water, the goal of synchronized swimming is to make challenging routines look as easy and flawless as possible. In recent years, the sport has progressed to a fast- paced, high-flying, performance arts sport, according to Adam Andrasko, chief executive officer of USA Artistic Swimming. “Anita Alvarez is the first three-time U.S. Olympian in the history of the sport. Her near-drowning experience at the 2023 World Championships was international news, and her courage and resilience since then are unmatched.”

For the first time, men are eligible to compete in Artistic Swimming. The U.S.A.’s Bill May as potentially the first male Olympian in the sport is big news. There are two medal competitions, one for teams of eight athletes who will swim three routines: Technical, Free and Acrobatic. This is the first time the U.S.A. has a team in the Games since 2008. The Duet or two-athlete event features two routines, Technical and Free. In both, the scores from each routine are added to determine the winner and runners-up. Russia has dominated this sport at the Olympics since 1996. Now, China is the world’s top team, followed by the U.S.A. in second, Spain in third, and Japan in fourth.  


July 27-August 5 (Slalom) August 3-5 (Kayak Cross) August 6-10 (Sprint) Vaires-sur-Marne Nautical Stadium Vaires-sur-Marne, France (20 miles east of Paris)

Plant yourself in this white-water stadium, the first newly developed Olympic facility of the 2024 games, because either slalom or sprint canoe/ kayak events happen every day of the competition. In Slalom, athletes navigate a 150- to 400-meter-long whitewater course through rapids, plus downstream and upstream gates. Point scoring is based on the fastest time, while penalties strike for touched, missed or incorrectly navigated gates. Sprint athletes race head-to-head in canoes and kayaks in a nine-lane course over 200m, 500m and 1000m distances.

Watch for Nevin Harrison, reigning Olympic champion in the Canoe Sprint Women’s Canoe Single 200m event, who hopes to defend her title in Paris. Look out too for 20-year-old Evy Leibfarth, a first-time Olympian who has dominated national competitions in all three canoe slalom disciplines — canoe, kayak and kayak cross.

“Kayak Cross will make its Olympic debut in Paris this summer,” says Kaycee Maas, communications manager for the American Canoe Association. “This is an exhilarating head-to-head race where four paddlers drop from an elevated platform into a technical whitewater course. Athletes still navigate green and red gates that are different than traditional slalom gates.” Overall, Slovakia, France and Germany dominate Olympic canoeing.  


July 27-August 10 Aquatics Centre Saint-Denis, France (12 miles north of Paris)

Diving is a lot like gymnastics. At the Olympic level, athletes perform as many as 41⁄2 somersaults or 3 twists between jumping off the diving board and entering the water. Synchronized diving, which features two divers at the same time, was added to the Olympics in 2000 and takes place in 2024 as well. “Individual diving events have preliminaries, semifinals and finals,” explains Jennifer Lowery, public relations officer for USA Diving.

The top 18 from prelims advance to semis, and the top 12 from semis advance to the finals. Synchronized diving is finals only. A team of seven judges, 11 for two divers at a time, award points based on the diver’s skill in completing various parts of a dive like the starting position, take-off, timing of movements during flight and angle of water entry. Scores are displayed on a scoreboard.

The 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for diving will be held June 17-23 in Knoxville, TN. The U.S. will likely have a mix of veteran and first-time Olympians. Among the divers vying for spots on the 2024 team are 2020 medalists Delaney Schnell, Jess Parratto, Andrew Capobianco and Krysta Palmer. The U.S. dominates the world with 141 Olympic medals, including 49 gold.  


2023 World Rowing Championships - Women's 8 - Courtesy of USA Rowing

July 27-August 3 Vaires-sur-Marne Nautical Stadium Vaires-sur-Marne, France (20 miles East of Paris)

Rowing played on the big screen last year. The Boys in the Boat, directed by George Clooney, tells the story of University of Washington’s rowing team moving from their Depression-era start to gold at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. For 2024, “All our boats have athletes who have competed on the senior national team before. Meghan Musnicki is a four-time Olympian and two-time Olympic gold medalist looking to finish her career with one more medal,” says Carolyn Glandorf, communications and marketing coordinator for US Rowing.

Liam Corrigan and Nick Mead, a pair of two-time Olympians in the men’s four who placed third at the World Championships in 2023, are on the hunt for a podium return in Paris. Michelle Sechser, two-time Olympian who placed second last year in the World Championships, is competing in the women’s lightweight double.

This is the last time the lightweight events will be raced at the Olympics. They are replaced by Beach Sprints at the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Boat categories include sweeping (two oars) and sculling (one oar) with one to eight crew. Events evolve from heats to repechages, semifinals and finals. Scoring is simple. The first boat to cross the finish line wins.


July 28-August 8 Roucas-Blanc or Marseille Marina Marseille, France (480 miles Southeast of Paris)

This windy Mediterranean Sea venue welcomes one of the most diverse slates of boats and boards ever to appear in an Olympic program. In a nutshell, there are four mixed (men and women), three male and three female events creating a first for gender equality.

“Kiteboarding will make its debut and is sure to attract flashy X-Games sports-style fans,” says Allison Chenard, media and communications coordinator for U.S. Sailing’s Olympic team. “We have windsurfing, the widely loved and popular ILCA 6 and 7 classes (formerly ‘Laser Radial’ and ‘Laser’), wild looking ‘skiff’ 49ers and 49erFXs, a flying catamaran (Nacra 17), and a traditional but highly technical mixed gender 470.”

No past medalists are on the U.S. roster this year, but we have experienced Olympians, notably Stu McNay who will be racing his fifth Olympics with Tokyo 2020 Olympian Lara Dallman-Weiss. Daniela Moroz has earned six consecutive World Champion titles in the Women’s Formula Kite and is slated to win the first U.S. gold medal in sailing since Anna Tunnicliffe Tobias’s Laser Radial Gold in Beijing 2008. U.S.A. is second to Great Britain in Olympic sailing medal count.  


Four days in 10-day window July 27-August 8 Teahupo’o Tahiti, French Polynesia (9,765 miles from Paris)

As in Tokyo, when surfing made its Olympic debut, competition in 2024 will feature shortboard events for men and women. The Pacific Ocean off this small coastal village is famous for its surf break, with waves ranging from 6 to 23 feet. Judges score each rider’s wave runs on a scale of 1 to 10, drop the highest and lowest scores, and compute a final score based on the two highest remaining scores.

“We are excited once again to have some of the world’s top surfers competing for Team USA,” says Kristen Gowdy, manager of Paralympic and IMS communications, for the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee. “On the women’s side, we have Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 champion Carissa Moore and 2023 world champion Caroline Marks, as well as Olympic rookie Caitlin Simmers, who finished fourth at worlds in 2023. For the men, John John Florence and Griffin Colapinto have punched their tickets. Paris will be the second Games for Florence and the first for Colapinto, who took the bronze medal at the 2023 world championships.” The United States, South Africa, Japan, Brazil and Australia are strong surfing countries.


July 27-August 9 Paris La Défense Arena Nanterre, France (7 miles west of Paris)

U.S. Olympic Team Trials for swimming take place June 15-23, in Indianapolis, IN. “There are several athletes to watch, although surprises can always happen at Olympic Trials. One includes three-time Olympian and recent recipent of the Presidential Medal of Freedom Katie Ledecky, who has amassed eight gold medals, including two in Toyko in the Women’s 800m and 1500m freestyle,” says Jacob Grosser, senior director of marketing and communications for USA Swimming.

Another is Robert “Bobby” Finke, who also won a pair of golds in the 2020 Olympics in the Men’s 800m and 1500m freestyle. The 35 swim events include men’s and women’s events; freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly strokes; distances from 100m to 1500m; and both solo and relay races. Two open- water or marathon swims, a men’s 10km and a women’s 10km, happen on the Seine River. The U.S. is a swimming powerhouse amassing nearly 600 Olympic medals, with about half as gold.

USA Water Polo Women vs Spain Gold Alys Williams Ashleigh Johnson defense | Courtesy of Jeff Cable - USA Water Polo


July 27-August 11 Aquatics Centre Saint-Denis, France (12 miles north of Paris)

It’s a combination of soccer with its counterattacks, hockey due to power play advantages after a foul and basketball with its outside shots. That’s how Greg Mescall, chief content and marketing officer of USA Water Polo describes the sports thrills and spills. “We have a strong women’s team who’s won Olympic gold in 2012, 2016 and 2020. This year, the roster has six past Olympians and seven making their debut. The men’s team is composed of three-fourths returning Olympics. This puts the men in a strong position to medal in Paris, something they haven’t done since 2008.”

Twelve men’s teams and 10 women’s teams play a round robin (every team plays every other team), quarterfinal, and finals all based on the number of matches won. Hungary boasts the most Olympic water polo medals, with the U.S. in second.

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