|Mary Rose Sunshine State Games Grant Program
|The Mary Rose grant is available only to Florida Synchronized Swimming Clubs and
Organizations. It is funded by the Florida Sports Charitable Foundation and donations to
the United States Synchronized Swimming Foundation in Mary's memory.
The grant program is administered by the USSS Foundation.
|She once starred alongside MGM movie legend Esther Williams, but
former synchronized swimmer and coach Mary Rose was a legend in
her own right.
She served as the synchronized swimming sport director of Florida's
Sunshine State Games since its inception in 1980. She was founder
and head coach of the Orlando Loreleis Synchronized Swim Team,
which produced a number of nationally recognized champions.
|In 1999, Mary was recognized with a Florida Governor's Sports Leadership award, an award from the
Synchronized Swimming Hall of Fame, and induction into the Central Florida Sports Hall of Fame.
"She dedicated her life to synchronized swimming, but she was also the kindest, most generous, amazing
person and a wonderful mother," said her son, Charlie Rose of Altamonte Springs, Florida.
Former swimming student Tia Fenoff, who was an All-American at Ohio State, described Rose as a major
influence. "She taught us about swimming, but more importantly, it was the life lessons she taught us," said
Fenoff, a four-time national champion who swam on the National Team at the U.S. Pan-American Games in
Cuba in 1991.
"As students we often traveled with her without our parents, so she was like a second mom," said Fenoff.
"She taught us about manners, never giving up, starting at the bottom and working your way up — she
molded us into strong young women."
Born in Massachusetts, Mary Dwight moved to St. Petersburg when she was in middle school. Mary and her
sister, Fran, combined their love of swimming and dance to form a synchronized swimming duet known as the
After graduating from St. Petersburg High School in 1949, Mary became one of the first mermaids at Weeki
Wachee Springs, where she and Fran performed water ballets. The sisters also worked at Cypress Gardens,
where they landed a part in the movie "Easy to Love", starring Esther Williams.
"They even got a line in the movie. They said, 'Good Morning,' to the leading man, Van Johnson," said Rose's
half-sister, Beverly Gidlow of California.
Shortly after filming the movie, Mary and Fran drove to Miami to try out for the International Water Follies and
were quickly hired. For the next 15 years, Fran, Mary and her husband, a stand-up comic/diver named Eddie
whom she married in 1954, performed around the world.
Following her show business career, she and her family moved to Florida in 1974. Her beloved husband,
Eddie Rose, died in September 2003.
In addition to being the first swimming sport director of Florida's Sunshine State Games and coaching the
Orlando Loreleis, she was instrumental in opening the Justus Aquatic Center, now the YMCA's Aquatic &
Family Center. She also helped get synchronized swimming recognized as an Olympic sport, said her son.
Mary died on November 24, 2009.
Regarding the grant program, Stephen V. Rodriguez, Director of Amateur Sports for the Florida Sports
Foundation, said, "Mary Rose was on the Board of the State Games for 30 years and she was honored last
year by the games. It is only fitting that we would want to continue to honor her by supporting the athletes and
programs that she so loved."
The grant program is administered by the US Synchronized Foundation. The monies donated to the
Founders Society in Mary's memory have been combined with those from the Sunshine State Games to
enhance the value to the eligible organizations in Florida.
For more information about the grants and application process, please see the linked forms above.
If you would like to donate to the Mary Rose Sunshine State Games Grant Program, click on the "donate"
button above. In the "instructions to merchant" box, specify that you want the funds to go to this program.
|"She was so gorgeous," recalled Beverly Rose,
who attended many of her sister's shows. "She
had this solo swimming number. She would
stand in the middle of this big stage with two
swimming pools on either side. She would get
up there and she'd take off her cape. Her
bathing suit would sparkle. She sparkled
brighter than Elvis."
|reprinted, in part, from The Orlando Sentinel
|Note Founders Society or Building America's Teams
on your donation form. See instructions for more
2012: Loreleis of Central Florida