Bill May is an American synchronized swimmer and open water swimmer from Las Vegas, Nevada. He is also a character and synchronized swimmer with Cirque du Soleil's water-based show, O. He also helped coach the USA Olympic Synchronized Swimming Team at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
O is a water-themed stage production by Cirque du Soleil, a Canadian circus and entertainment company. The show has been in permanent residence at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States, since October 1998. O, whose name is pronounced the same way as eau, the French word for "water", takes place in, around and above a 1.5-million-US-gallon (5,700 m3) pool of water, featuring water acts such as synchronized swimming as well as aerial and ground acts. The O theatre, which is designed to look similar to a 14th century European opera house, has 1,800 seats, thus allowing the performance to be watched by 3,600 people a night since the performance usually plays twice in a given day.
May is a former synchronized swimmer. Performing primarily in duets, May won several national and international events. Because of his gender, May was not allowed to compete in the 2004 Athens Olympics.
May became interested in synchronized swimming when he was 10 years old while living in upstate New York after watching his sister in a beginning class. He explained why he became involved, "I did competitive swimming there and the synchro class was right after it, so we couldn't go home until she was done. It was either try it with her or sit outside the pool and watch her, so my mom told me to try it, just to be in the water and be doing something."
May began taking lessons and later performed with a local team, the Syracuse Synchro Cats. After the Synchro Cats disbanded, he performed with the Oswego Lakettes.
In 1996, at age 16, May moved to Santa Clara, California. He tried out for the Santa Clara Aquamaids, one of the top synchronized swimming programs in the United States, and was accepted into the junior A squad. May eventually was promoted to the Aquamaid's top "A" squad.
Teaming with partner Kristina Lum, May won the duet event at the 1998 US national championships. The pair then won the silver medal in the event at the 1998 Goodwill Games. Because May is male, he was barred from competing in the 1999 Pan American Games. FINA allowed May to compete in its sanctioned events. In 1999, May finished first in duet at the Swiss Open and French Open. He won the Grand Slam at the 2000 Jantzen Nations and was named the US Synchronized Swimming Athlete of the Year in 1998 and 1999. A hopeful for the 2004 Athens Olympics, May was not allowed to compete after the United States Synchronized Swimming Federation declined to ask for inclusion of a mixed pairs event at the games. Said May, "It was a huge disappointment and it was very humbling. ... It's a political sport in that it's kind of like a clique at school." Replied Ginny Jasontek, President of the USSSF, "We cannot allow men in a women's sport."