In the Swim

The Laguna Woods Village retirement community in Californian has its own synchronised swimming team, called the Aquadettes. It has been running for 46 years, has up to 25 ­members at a time and every year stages an annual 90-minute show, the Aqua-Follies. (Zackary Canepari/Panos)

The Aquadettes have featured in adverts and on breakfast TV in the US. (Zackary Canepari/Panos)

Margo Bouer, 73, who in her late 40s was diagnosed with MS. She says: “I saw the group perform and said, ‘That’s for me!’” (Zackary Canepari/Panos)

“We’re like a family,” says Valerie Andrews Link, the coach and, at 57, baby of the team. “These women are wonderful.” (Zackary Canepari/Panos)

The costume changes are the hardest thing, going from a wet suit to a dry one, and the ­swimmers wear tights under their suits to aid the process. An annual sewing bee is held to furnish the Aquadettes’ wardrobe. (Zackary Canepari/Panos)

“It’s the same as the Olympic sport,” says Valerie Andrews Link. “But we’re 40 pounds heavier, 40 years older, 40 miles an hour slower.” (Zackary Canepari/Panos)

“I always say,” says Andrews Link, “this is Laguna Woods, not Hollywood.” (Zackary Canepari/Panos)

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