Admit it--you watch those old Esther Williams movies on TCM and secretly wish you could learn how to synchronize swim.
Guess what? You can.
The Aqualillies, the Los Angeles-based performing troupe of synchronized swimmers and dancers, offers workshops in the sport this weekend and next at downtown L.A.'s Millenium Biltmore Hotel in its amazing Art Deco pool. The two-part classes are perfect for people looking for a fun, challenging water workout that doesn't involve laps. Some swimming experience is necessary (the crawl, backstroke, sidestroke) but newcomers to synchronized swimming are welcome and instructors will take students through a number of moves, such as:
Sculling techniques: arm and hand movements used to propel your body across the pool or up and out of the pool
Back layout: floating on your back in an extended position with head, hips and feet on the surface
Ballet leg: a back layout position with one leg lifted up to 90 degrees
Tub turn: a back position with knees bent into the chest and feet and shins on the surface. Turns are easily done from this position.
The Aqualillies are the brainchild of director Mesha Kussman, who was inspired by those extravagant Busby Berkeley musicals. "People who see the swimmers and dancers are transported," she says. The group has performed at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and at numerous private parties, and Kussman says audience members' curiosity about the swimmers and the discipline led her to start the workshops.
Although she's not a synchronized swimmer herself, Kussman is a fit gal (she also came up with Danceyoga, choreographed yoga set to music), and says the sport isn't just pretty to watch--it's a great workout.
"Classes are an hour and 15 minutes long and you're treading water the whole time," she says. "The body is always moving." And if you need more proof, synchronized swimmers' physiques are lean and toned.
So take the plunge--pun intended--and then make your own Busby Berkeley musical.
-- Jeannine Stein
Photo: Aqualillies. Photo credit: Shannon Cottrell