Dorothy Sowers

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Synchronized Swimming Coach

The Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame is graced with several members honored for long careers in dedication to the youth of Western New York. Many remarkable teachers and coaches have labored for years in relative obscurity, molding the lives of young people far from the glare of cameras or the proclamations of headlines. Ultimately, however, their achievements are so outstanding that they are inevitably acknowledged not only by colleagues, but by the general public as well. Tonight, the Hall is pleased to honor Dorothy Sowers, a devoted coach whose accomplishments cry out for recognition.

The sport of synchronized swimming was relatively new when Dorothy witnessed a demonstration at the Buffalo Athletic Club in the early 1950s, but the physically demanding sport held a stronger allure for her than the water ballet she had studied at Kensington High School. Sowers began coaching in West Seneca after earning a physical education degree from Cortland University. In 1961, she was tapped by the Town of Tonawanda to run its synchronized swimming program, and founded the Town of Tonawanda Aquettes.

Since that time, Sowers has compiled one of the most amazing records in all of local amateur sports. Over the years, her teams have won more than 1,500 titles in regional, sectional and national competitions, including national Junior Olympic and junior national team titles. The Aquettes dominated the early years of the Empire State Games, winning every medal (gold, silver and bronze) in every synchronized swimming event during the first six years of the games. Today the Tonawanda Aquettes are widely recognized as the best synchronized swimming team in New York State as well as one of the premier teams on the East Coast.

The Aquettes were once described as the embodiment of their coach: tough, competitive and committed. Success comes at a price, and the level of excellence sustained by Sowers and her Aquettes reflects a spirit of devotion, dedication and sacrifice seldom matched by any coach on the local level. Mrs. Sowers, in turn, has always in turn demanded the same qualities from her swimmers. As a parent once noted, “A girl doesn’t just join, the family joins as well.” From eighteen or more hours of rigorous weekly practices, to fund-raisers to finance trips, the Aquettes have always been willing to pay the price of success.

Dorothy Sowers has coached well over one thousand girls since founding the Aquettes, and has undoubtedly left a lasting impression on every one. The most significant impact of youth sports comes from a striving to reach full potential and compete at the highest levels of individual and team endeavor. These lessons have been well imparted to every young woman who ever shared in the legacy of the Aquettes and their single-minded coach, Dorothy Sowers.