Annette Marie Sarah Kellerman was an Australian professional swimmer, vaudeville and film star, writer, and advocate for the change of women’s swimwear.
She is often credited for inventing the sport of synchronised swimming after her 1907 performance of the first water ballet in a glass tank at the New York Hippodrome. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Kellerman was born in Marrickville, New South Wales, Australia on 6 July 1887, to Australian-born violinist Frederick William Kellerman and his French wife, Alice Ellen Charbonnet, a pianist and music teacher.
At the age of 6, a weakness in Kellerman’s legs necessitated the wearing of painful steel braces to strengthen them. In order to further overcome her disability, her parents enrolled her in swim classes at Cavill’s baths in Sydney. By the age of 13, her legs were practically normal, and by 15, she had mastered all the swimming strokes and won her first race. At this time she was also giving diving displays.