July 14, 2016
Karen and Sara Josephson were perhaps the most dominant sister duo in US Synchronized Swimming history. The identical twins from Bristol, Conn., began swimming at the age of five and won their first international title as members of the 1980 US Junior National Team.
They then enrolled at Ohio State in 1982 and dominated the competition. The Josephsons were part of 14 national titles over their four years with the Buckeyes and never lost a duet competition. Both were four-time All-Americans and graduated with honors in 1985.
Next up were the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. For two years, the Josephsons battled Canada’s Michele Cameron and Hall of Famer Carolyn Waldo in international competitions. The twins were never able to get the upper hand over the two years and it culminated with a silver medal in 1988.
After taking just a month off, the two returned to the pool with a renewed focus. During the four years between Seoul and the 1992 Barcelona Games, they never lost a competition. That included the Pan Pacifics, Goodwill Games, US Nationals, Olympic Festivals, The German, Mallorca and Rome Opens, the US Olympic Trials, and the Perth world Championships where they set the world record for the highest total duet score.
In Barcelona, they lived up to their own and other’s expectations, winning the US’s first gold medal in the duet event. They received four perfect marks for technical merit and four more 10s for artistic impression. Their five-minute routine earned a total score of 99.600 points, and the victory marked the duo’s 16th consecutive championship–a record in the sport’s history.
Karen and Sara retired from competition following the 1992 Olympic Games and became only the second synchronized swimming duet team to be inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.