Synchronized Swim Team Keeps Seniors Active
For more than 30 years, a synchronized swim team in Harlem has been wowing audiences. But the real surprise is when the swimmers get out of the water. NY1's Cheryl Wills filed the following report.
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They are known as the Honeys and Bears Swim Team. The 31 ladies are the honeys and the 10 guys are the bears.
Their synchronized moves draw oohs and aahs from the crowd. But it's when they get out of the water that jaws really drop.
Every member of the swim team is a senior citizen.
"It keeps me out of the doctor's office," says Lettice Graham, 90.
"I really feel like it extends my life," says Irma Sloan, 83.
Like a scene straight out of the sci-fi classic "Cocoon," where seniors take a dip and happen upon the fountain of youth, the community pool at the Hansborough Recreation Center in Harlem helps these seniors, like 75-year-old Lillian Braxton, forget their aches and pains.
"When I started swimming, the pain subsided or you can tolerate it a little more," Braxton says.
"We work together till we get it down to a science," says team member Raymond Perrineau.
Dorise Roberts Black is probably the group's biggest inspiration. She's suffered a stroke and fractured a hip but she doesn't let that stop her.
"Water is so forgiving and so wonderful because you are not on a smooth surface," she says. "The things you do in water, you may not be able to do on land but you surprise yourself when you get in the water."
The Honeys And Bears meet three times a week and are in high demand for performances around the country. Their coach, Oliver Foote, doesn't cut them any slack just because they are elderly.
"Our motto is "good, better, best," he says. "Never let it rest till the good is the better and the better is the best."
"Were it not for this water and my ability to get in there and energize myself, I would be sitting home just watching you on TV," joked team member Rasheeda Ali.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.