They swim together. They move their limbs together. And they smile together.
Members of the Aqua Rhythms Synchronized Swim Team are all about togetherness, working as one to perfect a variety of routines they can use during performances. The team practices at 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the sports pool at La Hacienda Recreation Center, site of this fall’s expo — “Weather Girls.”
Routines for the performances vary in size, ranging from two people to more than a dozen. Anyone who is able to swim — women and men — can join the water-based team, now in its 28th year of existence.
“It’s disciplined, it’s fun, it’s beneficial to your body, it’s aerobic, it’s a mental challenge to remember the routines and make your body do what it’s supposed to do at a certain time,” said Pat Bailey, team co-coach. “It’s coordination with others, and you’re outdoors in Florida — in The Villages. How could it get better than that?”
Nancy Hooper, who has been on the team 12 years, can vouch for the benefits of swimming with the Aqua Rhythms.
“When you see the movies after (our) show, then we say, ‘Ah, we did good. That was great.’ ‘Oh, you didn’t have your feet together when you dived.’ You learn a little more every year, too,” said Hooper, of the Village of Chatham. “And I think the main thing is getting out and exercising. You have to be committed for this, and so I know every Tuesday and Thursday I’m going to get a good swim.”
Stacie Rissmann-Joyce said that music motivates her to move about the water, which she stressed is less impactful on her joints.
“You’re not pounding on the cement,” said Rissmann-Joyce, of the Village of Orange Blossom Gardens. “You don’t have to be a super swimmer. There are routines for everyone — for everybody’s talent or expertise, swimming ability. We’re good.”
During rehearsal, participants gracefully maneuver their bodies in unison to the music, concocting various shapes — including a moving circle — along the way.
“It’s just a good way to get your body moving in rhythm and to work with other ladies, and again, having fun,” said Bailey, of the Village of Poinciana.
Because synchronized swimming acts must involve at least two people, the activity naturally lends itself to displays of teamwork.
“Everybody has to be thinking along the same lines and the count to the music,” Hooper said. “I’m keeping my eyes on the girls to see who is moving, to stay with them.”
After days, weeks and months of practices, the team gets to showcase its skills and hard work through performances at the sports pool at La Hacienda, entertaining fellow Villagers, family members and others.
“It’s exciting,” Rissmann-Joyce said. “It’s so much fun when they clap with the applause. It’s motivating.”
Bailey said the performances are a “great release” for her.
“I enjoy the practice, of course, but perfecting it to the point where you can present it to others is really a challenge for me — and I enjoy it very much,” she said.
Ellen Lyons also likes performing with the team, but said there is more to the group than just the productions.
“It’s that we all worked as a group and we are in it all together. Whether we have a show or not, we’re here as a group,” said Lyons, of the Village of Hemingway. “The show is just part of it.”
Those interested in joining Aqua Rhythms can contact Pat Bailey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Aqua Rhythms will perform its free expo, “Weather Girls,” at 1 p.m. Nov. 14 at the sports pool at La Hacienda Recreation Center.
Tyler Breaman is a senior writer with The Villages Daily Sun. He can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5226, or email@example.com.