Editor’s note: The story in our last issue about Fish Fans⁠—WSU’s former synchronized swim club⁠—brought about a wealth of cherished memories, some of which follow …


Black and white image of synchronized swimming performance at Washington State College in 1951Closing segment from the Fish Fans’ Mother’s Day weekend performance, May 1951
(Courtesy WSU Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections)


What a delight, I actually cheered when I opened the summer edition of Washington State Magazine. I can fill you in for the early ’40s …

Spring of ’44 we swam to the popular “swing era” music. Two members and I swam to the rhythm of “Deep Purple.” Yes, we formed the circle as you pictured [see “Their place in history,” WSM Our Story].

Spring of ’45 we performed Peter Pan and Tinkerbell was my swim. (I could go the entire length of the pool underwater twisting like a torpedo!)

Fish Fans Spring of ’45 and ’46 performance programs
(Courtesy WSU Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections)


Spring of ’46 we swam to the tunes of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. My part in the show was Snow White.

Because it was fun for us, the performances were good and always on Mother’s Day weekend. We gave two performances and always had an appreciative audience.

Shows always closed with the whole membership swimming with lighted red candles to the tune of the WSU Fight Song and forming a big “W.”

Thank you for your outstanding article and at 97 years old … I still swim!

Jeanette Ott Burford ’47 Speech & Hearing Sci.

Jeannette Ott at Washington State College in 1945Fish Fans group shot detail of Jeanette Ott from the 1945 Chinook yearbook.
(Courtesy WSU Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections)


Enjoyed the recent issue. The mention of Sue Durrant in the article about the swim team brought back strong memories. My freshman year I took swimming, and Ms. Durrant took it upon herself to teach me, a shy farmgirl, not only swimming but more importantly that I should be proud of my height. Whenever she saw me slouching, she would grab the back straps of my suit and make me stand up straight. If I could, I would want to get this message to her: “Thank you for pushing me!!”

Irene (Tichelaar) Silverman ’68 Poli Sci.


The Sidelines article, “Fish Fans made waves,” brought a huge smile to my face while reading it. I was a Fish Fan for three years, ’75–’77, and I have so many cherished memories from those times. Yes, there were days I was so tired of always smelling of chlorinated water and having wet hair but it was all so worth it. We swimmers were allowed to be creative in our choreography and costuming and we carried skills of organization, leadership, and teamwork into our adult lives.

In September 2007 I traveled to Pullman to receive my varsity letter award as part of the “Honoring the Legacy of Women in Athletics” event. My high school synchronized swimming instructor/coach was also there as she too had been a Fish Fan back in 1949. I also had the honor of traveling to Seattle to perform with teammates in the UW swim show. Another host of fond memories. Thank you so much for the nostalgia.

Debby Trapp-Roehm ’77 Kinesio.

Fish Fans synchronized swim team at Washington State University in 19761975–76 Fish Fans officers — Row One: Debby Trapp, Publicity; Jill Haughseth, Treasurer. Row Two: Rebecca Ann Larsen, Social Chairman; Kitsy Seely, Secretary; Cheryl Meyer, President. From the 1976 Chinook (Courtesy WSU Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections)