“I didn’t recognize you with your clothes on!” a woman says to another at a checkout counter. Both are “Water Lilies,” and enjoy the standard comment that is heard often between women, and a few men, on the street and in shops around the Wenatchee Valley.
The “Y Water Lilies” is a fluid group of up to 25 Wenatchee Valley women and men who do deep water aerobics daily at the Wenatchee YMCA. The group is not exclusive to women as there are three or four men who tread water regularly throughout the year with the Water Lilies.
Why? Water Lilies? “We didn’t think ‘Y Gang’ sounded lady like,” said Georgia Burgener with a grin. They have been playfully referred to as the “Flab and Gab Club,” but that seemed like too much information. About five years ago, the group began referring to themselves as the Water Lilies — resilient, elegant, lovely people, like the flowers, who come together for fun and for exercise of body and mind! For more than 25 years a core cluster has been working out at the downtown YMCA pool. Betty Duvauchelle, Georgia Burgener, Mary Kintner — members of the original group — continue to kick up the water with gusto.
Instructors kindly remind the Lilies that they will get out of their work what they put into it. Often, a great deal more than a hard workout is the outcome. Freely conversing about any subject under the sun, no one knows what will come up next. Gardens, recipes, kids, grandkids, sickness, health … no topic is taboo.
This is a group that truly embodies the “Y” spirit of health, vitality, exercise and emotional well-being. Past instructor, Kendall Kismet, described the 7:30 a.m. Water Lilies as “a cozy place of boundless generosity of wisdom, laughter and spirit.”
Good times and bad, joys and sorrows, food and diets, laughter and tears, books and movies — the Water Lilies thrive on their pool community, carrying that support and cohesion outside the Y to support the community through activities with church, hospital, Mobile Meals, tutoring in reading and too many more activities to tally.
Many of the morning class are part of Wenatchee’s work force. Those who are available frequent different venues around town for lunch or breakfast, always balancing the fun and responsibilities of busy, active lives.
Sometime in May, as movies came up as a topic, a few of the ladies had seen a movie called “Calendar Girls,” about a group of British women of mature age who put together a nude calendar as a fundraiser for their local hospital. As the Water Lilies talked and kicked, and talked and kicked some more, I looked at fellow Water Lily Mary Kintner and said, “WE can do that!” I quickly added, “IN OUR SWIMSUITS.” Inspiration, ideas, laughter and fun began to bloom.
When the Water Lilies get inspired about something, things happen. This blossom got bigger and bigger and took on a life of its own. A Water Lily Calendar concept was launched to raise money for the programs at the YMCA to promote health and well-being for its members — and nonmembers, too.
Brainstorming sessions, talks with Y aquatics director Aaron Lindholm and board members, input from all Water Lilies (and their families, too!) coalesced into a plan to launch a 12-month calendar with Bailey Brennan and Aaron Lindholm acting as photographers. You may have already seen the Water Lilies on one of their “shoots” in swimsuits, draped in brightly colored towels or Y T-shirts, at various locations around Wenatchee … all with water lilies in their hair.
The vast array of skill and experience of the Water Lilies is unleashed. The exuberance and energy of these Y members give the project fuel to expand and become a working reality. Between jumping jacks and flutter kicks, the Water Lilies daily kick around any and all ideas. They quickly embraced the challenge of creating a calendar in good taste and good fun to benefit the good of Wenatchee Valley YMCA.
For more information or to express interest in sponsorship of the calendar project, please contact Judy Brown at 663-8346, Mary Kintner at 663-7667 or me at 667-1436.
Rana Wilcox is a proud member of the Y Water Lilies. She lives in Wenatchee.