The Walnut Creek Aquanuts’ strong run on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” may have come to an end Wednesday, but not before they impressed millions while showing off the sport of synchronized swimming.
The Aquanuts fell just short of advancing to the semifinals on Wednesday’s voting results show at Radio City Music Hall as dance group Innovative Force, comedian Angela Hoover, country singer Marty Brown and singing group Forte moved on.
“We kind of became friends with a lot of the other acts backstage, so they’re happy for Angela and Marty and the other people that make it through, so they’re OK,” Aquanuts coach Kim Probst, a 2008 Olympian, said. “All the acts were so different that you don’t feel super competitive with each other just because you respect what they do as well. There was pretty good camaraderie backstage, and everybody’s cheering for each other, so that part of it was really fun I think that was the girls’ favorite part.”
The Aquanuts got the judges’ and reviewers’ attention on Tuesday’s performance show after their 90-second routine to Rihanna’s “Diamonds” in a rooftop pool. Judge Howard Stern called the act “amazing” and “spectacular,” and Heidi Klum agreed, saying, “It’s hard-core what you girls do, and I really enjoyed it.”
Avery Thompson, a reviewer for Hollywoodlife.com, wrote: “This synchronized swimming group definitely has our attention. They performed an impeccable routine to Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” complete with dazzling high heels. The ladies had to go the extra mile due to an injury that sidelined one of their teammates. Despite the added pressure, the ladies had a captivating routine that is so different from anything we’ve seen on the show.”
Andrea Reiher of Zap2It added: “Innovative Force and Aquanuts really stood out. They were professional, polished and put on very difficult acts without a stumble. We think those two should be shoo-ins.”
Probst said she was impressed with how the team handled the pressure of competing before millions on national TV.
“I definitely saw them, especially these past 10 days in New York, just step it up, realizing that it is high-stakes and it is serious,” she said. “We tried to let them know that you’re not just doing this for yourself, you’re doing it for your club and your sport. And I think they really took that responsibility seriously, which was nice to see. I’ve never seen us swim like that after only having the routine for a short amount of time, when you usually have it for a whole year. So I think they definitely realized that if you put your mind to it, you can make it good really fast.”
The Aquanuts, based in Walnut Creek, Calif., are considered one of the most prestigious synchronized swimming clubs in the world, having produced numerous Olympians while winning more than 200 national and world titles since its creation in 1968. Just this year, the Aquanuts won the senior team title at the SwimOutlet.com U.S. National Synchronized Swimming Championships in April.
The Aquanuts who competed on the show were: 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.
“I think besides traveling and meeting the other acts, probably the best part for the girls was having such support from the synchro family,” Probst said. “We had people texting us, ‘My whole family voted 21 times, and everybody at my work did too.’ I think that was so encouraging and made them work even harder this week. So we were feeling that support. We even had people who live in Manhattan now that were synchronized swimmers in their past coming to the live shows to support them. I think that was one of the best parts for the girls and for the sport.”