It was 1959. A young professor arrives at Greensboro College ready for a challenge.
One year later, he gets his challengewhen a young co-ed comes to his officeand asks “Coach, do you think we canstart a synchronized swimming programat Greensboro College?”
“Absodagumlutely! What is it?” “It’s water ballet.”“What! Do you wear tutus?” “No Coach. Let us show you.” And so they did and the Aquabelle program was begun at Greensboro College – In a big way!
“The Greensboro College swimming clubwas organized in the fall of ’60. TheAquabelles, meeting weekly with theircoach, Mr. William Ariail, prepared severalwater shows, including a special show forthe Fall Parents’ Weekend. InFebruary, officers of the club participated ina symposium at the University ofTennessee, for which they received tophonors. The highlight of the year was thetelevising of the Aquabelles’ spring watershow presented in May.”
The 1976 Aquabelles would be the last club coachedby Mr. Ariail. He took early retirement fromGreensboro College and along withwife, Sarah, moved to Little River, South Carolinawhere he would reside in his dream home watchingthe boats go up and down the river until his death onFebruary 6, 2007. Coach was a manof great principle and integrity. TheCollege and the Aquabelles lost adevoted friend and professor.
For four more years the Aquabellesdidn’t miss a beat.
They had funbut the quality of their work was never compromised.
We were moving into the 3rd decade of Aquabelle history and the College had changed its focus.The Modern Dance Club had been incorporated into a ballet program conducted by Joann Westbrook.Intramurals were also vanishing – Remember the Trojans – Trojanettes, Hornet –Hornets, Wolverines – Wolverinettes, and Spartan – Spartanettes?
The Athletic Program at Greensboro Collegenow included intercollegiatebasketball, soccer, tennis, golf, swimming andcross country and required more students tofield teams, greater demands on facilities andadditional support personnel. One era hadended, another had begun.
Who would have believed when the Aquabellesprogram was discontinued in 1980 that just a fewyears later, synchronized swimming would become apart of the Olympic Games?
Who would have believed that 51 years afterthe Aquabelles were formed in 1960 thatmembers of that group would be returning toGreensboro in November 2011 to see thetryouts for the USA women’s 2012 Olympicsynchronized swim team competition at theAquatic Center in Greensboro?
Who would have believed that 20 years ofAquabelles clubs would be represented heretoday, a little bit older but a lot wiser, perhapsnot as agile and possibly not as attractive in abathing suit, celebrating our talent, ourfriendships and our appreciation for the collegeand people who helped shape our lives.
And who would have believed52, 51, 50…..40, 39, 38……32 years later thatwe, the members of the Aquabelles would beback where it all started – Greensboro Collegefinding out that a program WE created andsustained for 20 years could be one of the mostdefining and historic programs perhaps ever atGreensboro College.
The last word goes to the youngprofessor and Coach who cameto Greensboro College in 1959.“Young ladies, you’re just likePost Toasties, just a little bitbetter. Those were really somehumdinger shows youperformed over the years.Congratulations Aquabelles!And thanks for the memories.”