WCA History

Rich WCA history begins in 1968 when Sue Alf was approached by the City of Walnut Creek to form a city sponsored synchronized swim program. The Walnut Creek Aquanuts (WCA) began with only two swimmers – one of them was Sue Alf’s daughter, Gail Emery. Gail, went on to lead the club as the head coach for almost 30 years, building the membership to approximately 80 athletes and starting the Aquanut’s legacy of excellence.

The Walnut Creek Aquanuts are highly acclaimed both Nationally and Internationally; considered by many to be the most prestigious synchronized swimming club in the world. They are 14-time National Champions and have won over 200 National and World titles. The Aquanuts consistently place athletes on the National Teams each year and are always a domestic powerhouse. In 2010 the Aquanuts won the High Point Trophy in every single National competition they entered, which has been informally nicknamed The Triple Crown of Synchronized Swimming. Most notably, however, the Aquanuts have a very rich

Olympic history:

    • 1972 Munich: Gail Emery, Gail Pucci, and Jackie Douglas perform in the Olympic Exhibition Gala in hopes of having the sport chosen to be added to the next Summer Olympic Games.

    • 1984 Los Angeles: In the Sports’ Olympic Debut, Sarah Josephson was the alternate and Gail Emery was the manager. The USA brought home the first 3 Olympic Gold medals for Synchronized Swimming. The first Olympic events were solo, duet and figures.

    • 1988 Seoul: Aquanuts Karen and Sarah Josephson along with Coach Gail Emery score the Silver Medal in the duet competition.

    • 1992 Barcelona: Karen and Sarah return for Gold along with Aquanut soloist Kristen Baab Sprague. Coach Gail Emery leads her athletes to a Grand Slam winning every single event, solo, duet and figures.
    • 1996 Atlanta: “The Golden Year.” The team event is added to the Olympic Games. Solo, duet, and figures were eliminated and there were now 10 athletes from 8 countries chosen to perform a technical team program and a free team program. The USA performed their “Patriotic” and “Symphony” routines to a sold-out crowd in Atlanta. Coach Gail Emery (along with Coach Chris Carver from Santa Clara) and manager, Aquanut Laura LaCursia, lead the team that boasted 5 Nuts; Tammy Cleland McGregor, Heather Pease Olsen, Natalie Schneider Bartleson, Margot Thien and Jill Savery. The USA received a standing ovation, perfect tens, and made Olympic History as they became the first Olympic TEAM Champions for the sport.
  • 2000 Sydney: Duet is added back into the Olympics. Heather Pease Olsen and Tammy McGregor returned to swim on the team and Gail Emery once again was a member of the coaching staff. The U.S. took 5th place in both duet and team at the Sydney Games.

  • 2004 Athens: Three Aquanuts competed on the Bronze Medal Winning Team; Tammy Crow deClerq, Erin Dobratz and Becky Jasontek.

  • 2008 Beijing: WCA Head Coach, Tammy McGregor lead a team of 5 Aquanuts to the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. Kim Probst, Jillian Penner, Becky Kim, Kate Hooven and Annabelle Orme competed and ended in a tie for 5th with Japan. Aquanut Coaches Gail Emery and Stephan Miermont rounded out the teams coaching staff.

In addition to having produced 8 Olympic Champions and 16 U.S. Olympic Athletes, the Aquanuts have trained over 30 Olympians from countries all over the world including Japan, Korea, Czech Republic, Brazil and Mexico. Athletes come from all over the world to Walnut Creek to practice among elite athletes and train under a world renowned coaching staff.

Coaching Highlights:

  • In 1998 Gail Emery was inducted into the Women's Sports Foundation Hall of Fame, the first person inducted for synchronized swimming. That year Gail retired from the Aquanuts to accept the head coach position for synchronized swimming at Stanford University.

  • The Aquanuts were coached by Gail Pucci from 1998-2002; Pucci holds more National titles than any other U.S. swimmer in the history of the sport.

  • In 2000 the International Swimming Hall of Fame recognized Gail Emery for outstanding achievements as a synchronized swimming coach.

  • Three Aquanut Coaches have won the Developmental Coach of the Year Award: Laura LaCursia (2002), Lianne Cameron (2003), Yuka Nakanishi Yeh (2010).

  • In 2006 Coach Tammy McGregor led the Senior National Team and 5 Aquanuts to its first International Gold Medal since 1996 beating the world dominating Russians in their own country at the 1st FINA World Trophy Cup.

  • There have been only 7 coaches to ever receive the United States Synchronized Swimming Coach of the Year Award. Four of them are from the Walnut Creek Aquanuts. Gail Emery (9-time recipient); Heather Olsen (former Aquanut, Head Coach of Stanford University, 2007); Tammy McGregor (WCA Head Coach 03-08, 2008); Kim Probst (present WCA Head Coach, 2010).