The Aqualillies

6 Ways To Dive Into Synchronized Swimming

by BUST Magazine

Photo by Gray Malin
“It absolutely feels like a swimming sisterhood,” says Mary Jeanette Ramsey, the executive director of the L.A.-based Aqualillies. “It’s really special.” If you’ve seen the Coen brothers’  movie Hail, Ceasar!, you’re already familiar with the kaleidoscopic performance capabilities of this synchronized swim team. If you haven’t, imagine  women decked out in matching swimsuits performing gorgeous, gravity-defying feats in water—all while keeping perfectly in sync. What started in L.A. in 2008 as a performance group has become a worldwide phenomenon with troupes in New York, Paris, and Melbourne to name a few. The swimmers—whose other jobs range from dancers and actresses to lawyers and engineers—have performed everywhere from Olympic-size swimming pools to Jacuzzis. And their shows don’t just dazzle with sparkly swimsuits and smiles; some serious athleticism and choreography goes into making those moves. “I think there’s a nostalgia for 1940s glamour, that Busby Berkeley kind of experience,” Ramsey says. “[The Aqualillies have] that old-Hollywood vibe but with really high-impact stunts.” Most of the Aqualillies’ performances take place at private events, but every year on August 8, Esther Williams’ birthday, they perform in public as an homage to the queen of synchronized swimming. Want to get your own Esther-vibe on? Here are Ramsey’s tips for getting your feet wet.

The AqualilliesPhoto by Albert Sanchez
If you live somewhere with an Aqualillies team (Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, Miami, and select cities in Europe, Australia, and Canada), the synchronized swimming fitness classes we offer are a really great introduction. They’re designed for people who want to do a workout that feels glamorous, and we start from square one. It’s not just about how you move your body or your legs, it’s also about smiling, presentation, and posture. If there isn’t an Aqualillies team in your city, the Masters synchronized swimming program is a nationwide community of women who do synchronized swimming competitions on the adult level. Many offer classes for varied skill levels. Check with your community pool to see if they practice in your area.

The core is the center of all your balance when you’re in the water, so anything that strengthens your stomach and your back is great. It’s also very cardio based and focuses on your butt and thighs. Tread water like a madwoman—as a synchronized swimmer it becomes your resting position.

A silicone swim cap—it’s less likely to pull your hair than a latex or rubber one and it stays put better. A great one-piece bathing suit: some of our favorite designers for performance suits are Norma Kamali, Ted Baker, and Karla Colletto. Jantzen makes great practice suits. You won’t be going upside down at an introductory level, but more advanced synchronized swimmers will need a nose clip (available at sporting goods stores). You’ll also need a towel, water bottle (a lot of Lillies like bkr bottles because they’re glass with rubber on the outside so they don’t break; $28,, and a waterproof bag for your wet swimsuit (we like Aloha bags; $26 – $42,

We’ve tried it all and one of our classic favorites is Tarte Cosmetics ( Their lipsticks are creamy and don’t smudge, even when you’ve been soaking in chlorine for three hours. They also have an amazing gel eyeliner that goes on really smoothly (Clay Pot Waterproof Liner in Black, $21). 

Ample pool time can wreak havoc on your body’s moisture level. Sunscreen is a must—I really like Neutrogena (Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen Broad Specturm SPF 100+, $11.49, because it’s light and doesn’t make me break out. Put leave-in conditioner in your hair before you get in the pool to protect it from the chlorine. Have Chapstick handy for dry lips and eye drops to battle irritation and redness.

Put some Esther Williams movies—like Bathing Beauty, Neptune’s Daughter, and Jupiter’s Darling—in your queue and top it off with Miss Piggy’s epic synchronized swimming fantasy in 1981’s The Great Muppet Caper

By Lisa Butterworth 

This article originally appeared in the June/July 2016 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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