The Palm Beach Coralytes synchronized swim team performed a water show themed ‘Synch In The Big Easy’ at Aqua Crest Pool in Delray Beach. Mom Nancy Kelly (left), Lauren Atchison, Anna Beckwith, Sara Moran, Katrina Figueroa and Kaitlin Kelly (11-12 age group). Photos by Tim Stepien
By Emily J. Minor
In the evenings when she finally gets home, 11-year-old Lauren Boylan says she’s “just plain tired.”
And that’s probably an understatement.
The pre-teen — who was born in California, raised in Paris, moved to Switzerland and recently was transplanted to South Florida — doesn’t spend her after-school hours texting or catching up on Facebook. She’s not stretched out in her girlie bedroom, giggling on the telephone over what happened that day at school.
The daughter of Stephen Boylan and his wife, Daphney Antoine, Lauren is part of the Palm Beach Coralytes, the competitive synchronized swimming group that has been drawing in women of all ages for the past 26 years.
Athleticism. Sisterhood. Team work. That’s what Coralytes is all about.
That, and fun.
Evelyn Dowling, 83, of Palm Springs, knows firsthand about all these joys. She’s been involved with the group since the Coralytes began in 1985. They’re based out of the county pool at the Aqua Crest Pool complex in Delray Beach.
“I had never done synchro before,” Dowling says now, about getting involved. “But I’m a fast learner.”
Today, Dowling still competes in the bracket that includes octogenarians.
Just how many 80-year-olds are out there competing?
“Usually there are just a couple of us,” she says.
For Lauren Boylan, the decision to join was paved by Antoine, her stepmom, who went searching for something both inclusive and athletic when they found out Lauren would be moving from Switzerland to South Florida last July. The family lives on the eastern edge of Boynton Beach.
Antoine checked out schools, eventually deciding the international baccalaureate program at Carver Middle School was probably the best fit. (And it turns out, it was.)
But since Lauren had grown up abroad, Antoine said she wanted something extracurricular that wasn’t singular, like the ballet Lauren had studied as a young girl.
“When my friend told us about the synchronized swimming, I just thought it sounded perfect,” Antoine said. “The minute she got into the group, she was accepted. No questions.”
Lauren said she “had no idea how it would go.”
“At the start, nothing’s really easy,” she said. “But after the first meet, it was good.”
Linda Coffin, a Coralytes mom who also joined the competition when her daughter joined two years ago, helps handle the team logistics — the public relations, and what-not. But she also swims. And it’s a good workout, considering that when you are a synchronized swimmer, you never touch bottom.
It’s all about core strength.
Each year, the teams compete at a regional level, Coffin says. This year, three teams comprised of swimmers 11 years old and older are headed to national competition in Washington state.
Coffin says she’s loved seeing the friendships form, in and out of the water, and it’s been great not just for her, but for her young daughter.
“They learn to depend on each other,” she says. “You definitely have to be a team
to do synchronized swimming.”