Ladies in high heels showing their perfectly synchronized routine to an audience at Radio City Musical Hall may bring to mind the famous Rockettes, but it's Walnut Creek's own Aquanuts that will take to the legendary New York City stage this coming week.
The award-winning synchronized swim team is currently competing on the NBC talent show "America's Got Talent."
Clad in swimsuits and pink, black and white high heels, the team advanced through auditions in New Orleans and Las Vegas earlier this summer and now is part of the live show, which started Tuesday. The Aquanuts will make an appearance in front of the celebrity judges at Radio City Music Hall this Tuesday at 9 p.m. on NBC. The team's performance will actually take place in a rooftop pool at a Holiday Inn that overlooks Central Park.
The eight-member, award-winning synchronized swimming team performed a 90-second program choreographed to music from the movie "Burlesque." That original performance was filmed in March, but the team was sworn to secrecy until the show aired.
"We decided to enter in order to promote the Aquanuts and the sport of synchronized swimming," said team coach Kim Probst. "It is incredibly popular and well respected in other countries, so we thought this would be a good way to show America how amazing the sport really is."
Celebrity judges voted to have the Aquanuts, along with 59 other acts, perform in New York City. Now, the television audience will determine which groups move to the next round. The eventual winning act will receive $1 million.
The Aquanuts are a world-renowned, 100-person club which has produced 20 Olympic synchronized swimmers and garnered more than 200 national and world competition titles. The Aquanuts competing on the show are Morgan Boneberg, Sofia Bouzos, McKinzie Chelberg, Alyson Haylor, Sarah House, Jamie Kuchan, Suying Rothrock and Alexa Tchekmarev. Boneberg, Chelberg, Kuchan and Tchekmarev also competed as part of a U.S. National Team that won the silver medal at the U.S. Open in Irving, Texas, earlier this month.
The girls practice six to 10 hours a day, and they never touch the bottom of the pool during their performance, said team member Haylor in a YouTube video posted by NBC.
In an email, Haylor said being on the show has been a dream come true.
"We feel so fortunate and excited to be presented with such an amazing opportunity," said the 18-year-old who has been with the team for five years. "My favorite part of being on the show is definitely being surrounded by so many talented, kind, fun people who all have similar goals and dreams."
Being a part of the show feels "surreal" for the 18-year-old Rothrock, who has been with the Aquanuts for 11 years. She has loved getting to travel and the people the team has met through the TV show. She says the Walnut Creek community has been supportive.
"Everyone I've told -- friends, family, co-workers -- have all been excited and promised to both watch and vote for us," she said.
The 'Nuts are pleading for people to vote for them on the show. Local businesses such as Sports Basement are spreading the word, and even the city of Walnut Creek is getting in on the action, making the team a centerpiece on its website.
The Aquanuts attract swimmers from all over the country to Walnut Creek. And it's not just the swimmers who are dedicated to the team -- so too are their parents. Each parent of a team member must volunteer at bingo one to four nights a month at the Blue Devils Bingo Hall in Concord; proceeds from bingo support Aquanuts operations and expenses.
So dedicated to Walnut Creek and the program is the team that if the Aquanuts win the ultimate $1 million prize from "America's Got Talent," they would put the money toward a new pool at the city's Clarke Swim Center.
"Our pool has basically run its course and the city of Walnut Creek is unable to support aquatics in the future," Probst said. "The burden will be on the aquatic clubs to fund our new pool and keep our programs alive."
The city estimated in 2011 that rebuilding the failing pools at Clarke would cost an estimated $25 million. But the swim group says $11 million is a more realistic cost.
To see the Aquanuts in person, their next live performance for the community will be held Aug. 29 through Sept. 1 at 8 p.m. each night at the Clarke Swim Center. To find out more about the Aquanuts, go to www.aquanuts.org.
Contact Elisabeth Nardi at 925-952-2617. Follow her at Twitter.com/enardi10.