[REAL VERSION] London 2012

REAL VERSION

Full coverage on NBC through August 12

Synchronized Swimming: Smiling Through the Pain

NBC4's Michelle Valles suits up to see what goes into synchronized swimming

By Michelle Valles
|  Tuesday, Aug 7, 2012  |  Updated 6:40 AM PDT
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Mesha Kussman says she was inspired after hitting up an LA pool party. Kussman and other sychronized swimmers pay homage to old Hollywood. Michelle Valles reports for the NBC4 News at 4 p.m.

Mesha Kussman says she was inspired after hitting up an LA pool party. Kussman and other sychronized swimmers pay homage to old Hollywood. Michelle Valles reports for the NBC4 News at 4 p.m.

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They call themselves America’s hottest water ballet entertainment company, and the Aqualillies’ synchronized swimmers are making a splash in sunny Los Angeles and across the country.

“We’re paying homage to water ballet as it was very popular in the 1940’s and glamour of old Hollywood,” said Mesha Kussman, founder and creative director of the Aqualillies.

Kussman says she was inspired after hitting up an LA pool party.

“I looked at the pool which was empty but lit and i saw the pool as a stage and i thought there should be entertainment in this pool,” she said.

It’s become so popular that now, along with performing, the Aqualillies give modified synchronized swimming lessons at the Annenberg beach house in Santa Monica.

“Anyone who looks at the Olympics or looks at what we do knows immediately that it’s not a joke,” said coach Mary Jeanette. “You are treading water in a deep end of a pool, supporting yourself.”

A leg motion resembling an egg beater is what supports synchronized swimmers underwater, allowing them to use their hands on the surface for arm choreography, Jeanette said, meaning that what happens underwater is not as graceful as what’s seen above water.

It takes a lot of training outside the pool before even thinking of putting on the swim cap and nose clip and jumping in.

“It definitely starts in your head then you have to make it happen in the water,” Jeanette said.

“There aren’t really many other sports where you have to smile while you are suffering.”

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