Members of the Green Splash demonstrate life saving situations during the annual water show.

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Aquamania—MSU Green Splash

The Green Splash was a women's honorary swimming club on campus. Formally organized in 1927, the Green Splash developed as a culmination of the activities of the Women's Life Saving Corps, established in the early 1920s.

The early 1920s were a period when women's sports grew rapidly on campus. Physical activity classes had always been mandatory for women students. Freshmen were required to take elementary courses in calisthenics, swimming, dancing, and games. Sophomore classes further developed techniques learned in the freshman classes. When the new gymnasium was completed in 1920, the women were given use of it in the mornings, which introduced swimming as a new activity available to women.

The American Red Cross Life Saving Corps of the Michigan Agricultural College (MAC) was organized in the spring of 1922 with 14 charter members. The goal of the organization was to supply the members with knowledge of the principles of life saving and swimming so they would be able to act instantly in case of an emergency. To become members, women were tested on their strength, technique, and judgment. MAC was the first college in Michigan to organize a Life Saving Corps, and was one of the first six in the nation.

Athletes who became members of the Life Saving Corps also became members of the Women's Athletic Association. The Women's Athletic Association (WAA) was organized at MAC in 1925 by Helen Grimes who was director of the Department of Physical Education for Women. By 1926, the WAA had a membership of 100 athletes. The women were allowed to compete in a variety of sports and had to earn their way into the WAA. Once a member, athletes had to follow training rules. Members had to get eight hours of sleep each night, could drink only one cup of coffee per day, and were not allowed to smoke. Members also had to maintain a minimum of a "C" grade point average.

In December 1927, the Life Saving Corps elected to change its purpose and its name. They decided to broaden the focus of the group to that of promoting interest in all water activities among women students. As a result of the new focus, the Life Saving Corps became the Green Splash. In order to be a member of the Green Splash, a woman had to be a member of the Red Cross Life Saving Corps; be a sophomore, junior, or senior; maintain a minimum grade point average; and pass designated swimming requirements.

The Green Splash began presenting an annual water show in the 1930s. These shows were elaborately planned and staged with costumes and scenery, often around a single theme, and showcased different numbers featuring soloists, duets, or large groups of synchronized swimmers. Although life saving was no longer a focus of the group, life-saving numbers were common in the water shows. Frequently men and women from the diving teams would also participate in the water show.

Examples of water show themes were: Alice in Waterland (1945); Swimming in the Park (1947); Splashlight on Sports (1957); Musical Sellouts (1962); and The Children's Hour (1976). The Green Splash is still active, one of the oldest club sports on campus. The group continues to focus on providing a fun and competitive synchronized swimming team.

Life Saver's Creed

Let me at ease in the water be,
At home in the river, lake, or sea;
Let me learn to play and have my fun,
But never let me stern duty shun.
Let me gladly and fearlessly go
For the luckless fellow who's gone below;
Nor give up hope when life seems gone,
But untiringly work on and on.
Oh, let me in the hour of need
Prove to the careless, the friend indeed!
Ever ready to do and dare!
Let me live so cleanly I may be fit
In that darkest hour to do "my bit."

-Dorothy McWood
Class of 1926, from the 1924 Wolverine yearbook


Finding aid to the Green Splash Swimming Club Records (UA 12.3.18)

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