Fish Fans entertained audiences at Washington State University for 70 years. Here are a few more memories of Cougar synchronized swim club.
Kay (Huson) Johnson (x’58 Phys. Ed.)
Fish Fans, 1957 to 1958
“I only went to WSU for one year, freshman year. My sister, Carol Huson (’59 Ed.), was already in Fish Fans. She was three years ahead of me. We were raised in Castle Rock, in western Washington, one block from the swimming pool and one block from the Cowlitz River. We were at the swimming pool day in and day out. We were both lifeguards there. … You had to try out for Fish Fans. I wasn’t worried about getting in. I was fairly confident in my abilities. It was competitive, but I was a very good swimmer and I never smoked. I had good lung capacity, and I was strong. You had to be able to do different strokes—the crawl, sidestroke, backstroke. And you had to be able to hold your breath when you did the wheels. Sometimes those wheels had eight people, and it seemed like you were underwater forever. It was a lot of fun, but it was a lot of work, too. We weren’t there to play. I think we practiced twice a week, and I remember it was always cold when we went into the pool. We had to practice in the evening. We practiced in the women’s gym, and I remember one day there was a sign on the door saying that our practice had been canceled because the boys needed a place to practice. That always stuck in my craw. … We got to keep the bathing suits. There were three of four different bathing suits for each program. … I guess what I liked about it was the glitz of it. I remember one routine I was in was Blue Danube. We had big hoop skirts with big flowers on them and our bathing suits. My parents came over for that performance. They called each girl by name, and we came down the ramp one at a time and gave a little twirl. When they called my name I stepped up and did a little twirl and fell down and broke my hoop. Yes, I did make an entrance.”
Bob Weaver (’67 Ed.)
Fish Fans, circa 1964 to 1965
“I was a member of Fish Fans for two years, probably 1964 and 1965. I wish I could pinpoint the years but several years ago I lost my treasured Chinooks in a house fire.
“When I was a member, we were taught/coached by Sue Durrant, and it truly was a fun experience. It may be that a coed aquatic art group was somewhat unusual. In addition to me, we had three other men, all of whom I think were on the men’s varsity swim team. It was interesting! It was fun!
“One year we had a regional competition at WSU, held in the pool in Smith Gym. A woman member and I choreographed a routine to the music of Carousel. Of course, there were lots of circular maneuvers and some acrobatics in keeping with the theme of Carousel. There were eight of us in the routine, four women and four men. While we didn’t win the competition, it really felt good for the judges to comment that it was refreshing to have men participate and demonstrate strength in their swimming. Fun times.
“Thanks for allowing me to share my memory.”
Marlene Giese (’67 Ed.)
Fish Fans, 1965 to 1967
“I remember having a creative writing class in which a theme was due every Wednesday. We had Fish Fan practice on Tuesday night and that didn’t get over until 9 pm. I would NEVER start my writing for that class until AFTER Fish Fan practice was done. I wrote, proofread, and typed my theme until the late hours. But, I got an ‘A’ in the class and NEVER once stayed up all night. I guess swimming must be good for the brain.”
Giese was in charge of choreographing a routine when she was a junior. “We did something with Kitten on the Keys. I made the kittens’ tails out of nylons stuffed with Styrofoam. Every time the swimmers went under water, the tails would bob up out of the water, straight up! They swam in the show that way.”
Jimmie Chevrier (x’91)
Fish Fans, 1987 to 1991
“Since the club has been gone so long, I am sure the old closet full to the brim of old costumes is long gone. I seem to recall it was in Smith Gym, possibly near Diane’s office.” Diane Albright was the adviser.
“We never had to go out and purchase any costumes that I can recall, unless it was something very specific. We had a massive treasure trove in that closet—decades upon decades of stuff. Any time we opened it up, it was like Pandora’s Box. Makes me wonder what happened to all of that when the club closed down. Sad to think about really, after all those years of fun so many people shared in.”
More Fish Fans
A plea for new members in the Evergreen in 2000
Smithsonian Magazine discusses the history of synchronized swimming