The World Aquatics Championships featured male contestants competing in team artistic swimming for the first time in its history on Saturday, with men due to make their Olympic debut in the sport next year.

In the preliminary round of the acrobatic routine, 18-year-old Yotaro Sato and seven women competed for host Japan at Marine Messe Fukuoka, as they placed fourth to qualify for Monday's final.

"With the support of the crowd, I enjoyed performing all the way through until the end," said Sato, who served as one of Japan's base athletes, providing the power needed to propel his teammates into the air from underwater.

"I didn't feel lonely because I have seven teammates. I was able to get to the stage (before the performance) thinking, 'I'm not alone.'"

Preliminary-round leader China also had one male contestant, Shi Haoyu, in its eight-member team on Day 2 of the championships.

"As a team, we tried to maintain our balance to bring out Yotaro's strength," Japan's captain, Megumu Yoshida, said.

Last December, swimming's governing body, World Aquatics, said that men will be allowed to compete in Olympic artistic swimming from the 2024 Games onward.

Since the sport, formerly known as synchronized swimming, was added in 1984 to the Olympic program in Los Angeles, only women had been allowed to compete. In 2015, the world championships introduced the mixed duet event.

The new rules will permit up to two men to take part in each eight-person team at the Olympics. Allowing male contestants to compete is expected to pave the way for more physically demanding moves.