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Teacher's Helper Really Fills the Bill in Underwater Exercise Class

November 17, 1994|CHARLES HILLINGER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Members of the underwater exercise class at the Jack Kramer Tennis Club swimming pool in Rolling Hills Estates have two instructors, Nan Lewis and Frazier.

Frazier is a duck.

For the past year every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7 to 8 a.m., Lewis and her broad-billed, web-footed Pekin duck have been leading 15 to 25 people through the exercise sessions.

The exercisers are in the water. The natural instinct of the duck is to join them in the pool. But Frazier stays on the deck.

"Frazier is well-trained. He'd love to dive in the water and join them, but he knows he's needed up here with me on the pool deck to help conduct the exercises," Lewis says.

Music plays over a loudspeaker as Lewis and Frazier lead the group in leg and triceps presses.

Lewis swings her arms and lifts her legs to the music. Frazier shakes a leg and wags his tail.

The duck lifts his right leg in the air, stands and stares at the participants for several minutes, then does the same with his left leg.

Lewis jaunts back and forth as do the people in the water. Frazier waddles closely behind the instructor.

"Frazier is a riot," says Shirley Cozen. "He does the same thing Nan does in his own ducky way. Frazier keeps us all in stitches."

At one point the duck's eyes blink, then slowly close tight. People shout: "Wake up Frazier! Wake up Frazier!"

The duck opens his eyes, cocks his head, waddles over to Lewis and unties her shoelaces with his broad bill.

"Sometimes Frazier leans over into the pool and tries to give one of us a kiss with his bill," Mary Lou Damon says. "We duck out of the way. A kiss from Frazier and we'd be missing half a lip."

Exercisers wear swimsuits and inflated cuffs on their wrists and ankles. The cuffs help keep their shoulders above water.

The cuffs also increase the resistance of the water, requiring three times more effort to move arms and legs, increasing both cardiovascular and muscular strength and endurance, Lewis says.

Those in the class insist water exercise is great. Harle Damon, 72, had a knee replacement recently and his doctor recommended this form of exercise as therapy.

Andrea Craig says she lost 103 pounds exercising with Lewis and Frazier three times a week and watching her diet.

Why a duck at an exercise class?

"I never set out to get a duck. My daughter gave me Frazier as a pet. The duck follows me everywhere. One day I brought Frazier with me to the exercise class as a lark," Lewis recalls.

"Everybody loved the duck. So Frazier joined the class.

She says Frazier, who takes his social cues from the people around him, is so charming he even gets invited to parties with her. "Once Frazier and I received an invitation to a formal dinner party. I dressed Frazier in a black tie and tuxedo. He was the hit of the party."

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Song Whang of Torrance has been named a Rufus Choate Scholar at Dartmouth College, where he is a senior. Choate scholars are ranked in the top 5% of their class.

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Torrance resident Karen Masurlian recently departed for Russia, where she will work as a Peace Corps volunteer. Masurlian, 28, a former middle school teacher, has a graduate degree in administration from Pepperdine University. In Russia, she will teach English to university-level students.

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Manhattan Beach resident Bill Beverly was elected chairman of the South Bay District of the American Red Cross. Beverly, a Torrance attorney, has served in several leadership positions at the Red Cross.

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Carmela Raack and Gwen Vuchsas, both Westchester residents, were named Rotarians of the Year by the Westchester Rotary Club. Raack, a Rotary Club member since 1987, has coordinated youth and vocational services for the club. Vuchsas began the club's El Sauzal orphanage project in Mexico and is the club's director of community services.

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Tecla Mickoseff of Hermosa Beach was honored with the Silver Knight of Management Award, an annual honor given by the National Management Assn. to an executive with outstanding leadership skills. Mickoseff, an administrator at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, was honored for supervising daily operations and long-term planning at the medical center.

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Jerry Papazian of Palos Verdes Estates has been elected to the USC board of trustees. Papazian, a vice president at Aura Systems Inc., an El Segundo-based technology firm, is a longtime community activist who also serves as president of USC's General Alumni Assn.

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USC has appointed Alice Cline Parker of Rancho Palos Verdes vice provost for research and dean of the graduate school. Parker joined USC in 1980 as an assistant professor of engineering. In her new position, she will work with the provost to improve the quality of research and graduate education.

Items for this column may be sent to People Column, South Bay Edition, Los Angeles Times, 23133 Hawthorne Blvd., Torrance, CA 90505.

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