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Staying on the Funny Side: Of Synchronized Swimming

by Funny Motivational Speaker, Kelly Swanson

(Back story: My mother was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, in a family that cherished the fine art of southern belle etiquette. My mother was one of five girls, which was a dream come true for her mother, as this qualified for a family synchronized swimming team. It was why they bought the house with a pool, after all.  If you are unfamiliar with the term, synchronized swimming is the art of dancing in a swimming pool, in sync with the other women, wearing skirted bathing suits and matching caps. Pointed toes and eloquently placed fingers were a sign of distinction in my mother’s world.  This synchronized swimming team was the whispered envy of the neighborhood, and the main event for many an afternoon social where women oohed and aahed as they sipped mimosas and watched the show through the thick smog of menthol cigarettes that, contrary to popular belief, did not stunt my growth in the slightest.  I suspect that my mother carried the swim team dream with her as she had children of her own. If you have met me, you will understand why the tradition died with me. Her hefty daughter had given birth to a new tradition we lovingly refer to as “Sink-ronized Swimming.” And that’s enough back story to tell you what happened the other night when my parents were at dinner.)

My parents were having dinner at a local pub. The Olympics were being broadcast on a big screen hanging in the corner. My father had his back to it, and my mother was facing it. They are at that stage of marriage where sometimes the screen is more engaging than the partner.  My mother was giving my father a play-by-play while he read the paper and pretended to listen.

Mom:  Van, do they have synchronized swimming in the Olympics?

Dad:     I’m not sure. I think so.

Mom:  Well they must. It’s right there on that screen. (Mom points to the screen just in case he didn’t notice the five-foot monitor when he walked in.)

Dad:    Then I guess they do. (He doesn’t look up from his newspaper.)

Mom:   This is exciting! Who would ever think synchronized swimming would become so popular! (Mom pauses to once again reflect on how her children killed her dream. It’s a popular dream.)

Dad:    (No response. He’s a man of few words since he married my mother.)

Mom:  Well.  All I have to say is that is the WORST synchronized swimming I have ever seen.

Dad:   Yep. (He’s learned that to agree is the path of least resistance.)

Mom:   Seriously, Van. You have to look.  They aren’t in sync at all.  And look at their hands. It’s shocking I tell you!

Dad:    (Sighing heavily, he turns around to look, because he knows she will not give up. She could win her own gold medal in persistence.)

Mom:  See? Isn’t that awful?

Dad:    (Gives Mom a funny look like perhaps after all these years he doesn’t know her at all.)    Honey. That’s not synchronized swimming. That’s WATER POLO.

They had to leave the restaurant because they couldn’t stop laughing. Even after all these years, they still laugh together like they did when they were nineteen.

We had a good laugh at my mother’s expense. But the biggest laugh was on me, when they told me the story and my reply was:

Me:   Wow. Water polo must be awful on the horses. I’m surprised the Olympics would condone that.

Sigh. Like mother like daughter.   That night I had a dream of horses wearing bathing skirts and matching caps. It wasn’t pretty.

Until next time,
Stay on the funny side.

6 Responses

    1. Thank you Ruby! Now when I dream, I will see you in a bathing skirt and cap doing leaps under water. You, too, always make me smile my friend. Water or not.

  1. Kelly, I am putting together a one-woman Scottish show. I am from Scotland and other speakers keep asking me to be funny, tell Scottish stories and jokes – so I have decided to do it. The challenge is in setting it up so that Americans understand the jokes! Do you think you might be able to assist?


    1. Hello Doreen! When I first started speaking, people (in my family) told me that my thick southern accent would not fly outside the southern US. They were wrong wrong wrong. Audiences LOVE an accent, and they love cultural flavor and dialect. And, yes, you do need to make sure some of the jokes don’t get lost in the translation. I am assuming that your audiences will be here in the US, yes? As you may already know, when it comes to humor, what words you use, and where you place them, make all the difference. And when you’re looking for someone to help you write humor, it is CRUCIAL that the person be able to step into your personality and help you write as you. Make sense? Anyway……I can assist. I would love to assist. And I won’t turn you into a big red-head with a southern accent. Although I do have Scottish roots. So there you go. 🙂 Send me an email, and we can talk about ways that I can help. or call me at 1-800-303-1049. Thanks for reaching out.

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