Synchro partners must always act as one. "We don't have to be hugging each other," says Louise, "but if Fred scratches his nose, I have to, too."
If Fred gets ahead or falls behind, Louise "blubs" him. That's what synchronized swimmers call an underwater scream.
"He's supposed to watch for bubbles coming out of my mouth," she says.
"You could just tell me to slow down," says Fred.
"I could, but you'd never listen."
Fred shrugs. "She's the expert."
Louise oversees their training regimen. She logs a couple of hours a day in the water. "Fred practices every day, but only for half an hour," she says.
On this particular afternoon, Louise rehearses at the pool; Fred stays home, napping. Her solo is a modest feat, a small-scale display of balance and lean design. Wearing a sequined crown and a sparkling silver and blue suit, she sculls around the pool to strains of Beethoven's Seventh. She sinks, comes back up and slowly lifts her legs until they're at right angles to the water. With arrowy poise, she oysters into pikes, sharks and all sorts of fishy hybrids: dolpholinas, catalinas, swordalinas. Submerged for nearly a minute, she emerges dramatically: head up, arms extended, left leg stretched out to a point about chest high. "Fred can do may-be a dozen figures," she says. "I know 438." In other words, every one in the book, plus some.
Back home, Louise pops a videotape of a recent Wings victory into the VCR. As the overture to the musical George M! crescendos, she and Fred mirror each other in corkscrews, kips and barracudas.
Louise thinks her prize pupil has made remarkable progress. "Especially when you consider he was never upside down in his life until he was 72," she says.