Water is Ludi’s Life, Pools Are Her Stage!
In this issue, I am honored to introduce you to my dear friend and business associate, Ludivine “Ludi” Perrin-Stsepaniuk, President and Creative Director of Ovia Entertainment, an aquatic-centric production and training company in Las Vegas, NV. Affectionately known as Ludi, she is an accomplished aquatic performer, synchro competitor, choreographer, and coach.
For over 3 decades her life and career has been centered around pools. Her aquatic achievements grow more impressive every year. One of Ludi’s latest feats is being cast as an aquatic stunt performer in the mega hit AVATAR: The Way of Water. Her journey to that role is quite storied.
We first meet in 2017, when she graciously agreed to participate in Paragon Pools’ Float Like A Duck water safety PSA “Learning to Swim, led me to…” series. The videos in English and Spanish were created to inform and inspire youth about exciting adventures and career opportunities one can enjoy from learning how to swim.
The PSA’s showcase a wide range of individuals and groups from around the Southern Nevada community who credit their path to personal growth, success, and accomplishments in sports, academics, and careers from learning to swim.
For Ludi, that declaration is extremely meaningful, learning to swim wasn’t just a stepping stone- it became her life’s stage. “I feel that learning to swim saved my life… it has guided me through my life.”
Born in Nimes, France in 1984, Ludi began swimming at age 2. “I took lessons at the local public pool,” recalls Ludi. “When I was 4, my parents had a pool built in our backyard. It was very deep, I believe the shallow end was around 5 feet, this required me to tread water and swim constantly.”
Foray into Synchronized Swimming
“My sister Virginie was 9-years older and a synchro swimmer, I looked up to her and she inspired me to join the sport. In those days, typical synchro swimmers were very tall with slender long legs. I didn’t fit that profile, I was more petite, but my sister told me that synchro could be my ticket out of our hometown. If I worked hard then everyone would want me on their team.”
At age 6, she joined the small synchro club where her sister swam. Her love for the aquatic sport magnified when she attended “Sirella” the first French water show starring French Olympic medalist Muriel Hermine. Ludi’s hard work paid off, at age 12 she was recruited to swim for one of the top clubs in Aix-en-Provence. Following numerous national titles, Ludi moved to Paris to swim with the senior national team at INSEP where she competed for 2 years and earned national titles.
“It taught me to work hard for what I wanted, work hard and anything is possible.”
Ludi moved to Belgium in 2004 where she joined the creation team of Le Reve, an aquatic themed show created by Franco Dragone and choreographed by Guiliano Peparini. In 2005, she was part of the opening cast at the Wynn Las Vegas and performed nightly with the show for 10 years, totaling over 5,000 performances.
Ludi’s talents earned her the position of synchro team captain in 2012. In this role, Ludi excelled.
“I really enjoyed training new performers, coaching castmates, and getting an opportunity to choreograph sequences. I knew I could do it and I wanted to be more in control. This is when I decided I wanted to be my own boss.”
2016 was a turning point for Ludi, she was named Head Coach to the Nevada Desert Mermaids (NDM) synchronized swim team and founded her company Ovia Entertainment. A highly sought-after performer and choreographer, Ludi and her Ovia performers have been featured in TV, films, commercials, and music videos, as well as in print.
“I feel like I really developed every aspect of what you can do with water. I love creating, coaching, and teaching swimming.”
Analyzing a Pool
As a pool designer/builder when I’m traveling or visiting someone with a pool, my instinct is to analyze the pool, how it was designed, constructed, and how well its maintained. When you come upon a pool how do you assess it?
“My teams and I have performed in pools across the globe. The first thing I do if its coaching, performing, shooting, whatever, is put my hand in and check the temperature. Any synchro swimmer will do that- you check the temperature, because that will tell you how your day is going to go. The warmer the better, especially when you spend 12-hours in it, the ideal water temperature is 89 degrees.”
“Then, I check the chlorine level and water quality, these are very important. In my sport, we don’t wear goggles. In a highly chlorinated pool, we won’t be able to work as long. Alternative sanitizers are much better. For any visual jobs such as shooting underwater for a movie, commercials, photos, or music videos the clarity of the water is also important.
The next thing is I look at is the design and shape of the pool. I like to use the whole set-up, to highlight the entire pool for the client. I ask about the depth of the pool, if we can use the water features, where the audience will be standing, and determine where the performers will enter the pool. I also confirm they have working lights. For evening performances, we need lights for safety. But I love it when we can have different colored lights because it really adds to the mood of the choreography. It makes it look more like a stage. The tag line for my company is Transforming Pools into Magical Liquid Stages! We always feel so lucky when we have a beautiful pool because it’s our stage.”
Pools and Safety
You mentioned safety earlier, what are some of the safety elements that you look for to ensure your synchro teams and performers are safe?
“If it’s an evening performance, working underwater lights are critical. We need it to see the interior and sides of the pool, as well as spot each other. But it’s especially important when we are doing acrobatics in the water. The performers need to check their surroundings before doing a back-flip off someone’s shoulders. If they get too close to the wall someone could get really hurt. I will also check the pool deck. There are a lot of deck tiles that are very slippery. We test it by getting the entire deck wet and check to see if we can dance, jump, and twirl on it. If its slippery, then we adapt the choreography. Water quality is also safety concern. If we arrive and the pool is in bad condition, we will offer a dry show instead of performing in the pool. I also talk with the pool manager and lifeguard about our activities and review the signal for danger- arms crossed in an X with closed fists. Whether it’s my performers or the athletic team, I will be the first one to jump in, why because I know the choreography, I know what looks natural, and I know what it looks like when that person is in distress.”
“In 2015, while I was still performing in Le Reve, the French National Synchro Team wanted to come to Las Vegas to do a camp, and they asked me to be their manager. I contacted the local synchro team, the Nevada Desert Mermaids (NDM) for advice and help on renting pools, sound systems, and organizing the activities. I built a relationship with the Head Coach Linda Tannenbaum. A year later, Linda contacted me inquiring if I knew someone who could help in coaching the junior team 1-day a week. I accepted the parttime position and got hooked again. I just loved coaching the kids and seeing how fast they would improve. When the Head Coaching position opened, I applied for it, become the Head Coach in 2016.”
Ludi has also been a part of USA Synchronized Swimming since 2016, starting as a guest coach and graduating to the level of Head Coach for a number of teams. In 2018, Ludi was named USA Synchro West Zone “Coach of the Year”. In 2020, USA Synchronized Swimming officially changed their name to USA Artistic Swimming. Her success as a coach has resulted in an abundance of medals and championships for her teams.
“I was head coach for the USA Junior National Team for the first ever Junior Pan Am Games in Columbia held in 2021. We won the first ever gold medal presented in the Games and finished with a total of 7 medals. Then, I was named Head Coach of the USA Artistic Swimming Youth Team for the FINA World Youth Artistic Swimming Championships in 2022. We presented in every event, they swam very well and finished with the highest cumulative score, winning the championship and the world trophy. For me that was a huge accomplishment, one of the highlights of my coaching career. I had a dream team, and a great assistant coach. I cried when the US anthem played because I knew I had made it. I became a US citizen in 2021, so putting my hand on my heart and singing the national anthem was very emotional.”
Le Reve- the dream!
Created for Wynn Las Vegas, Le Reve was set in a unique aquatic theater-in-the-round stage. The 27’ deep swimming pool had a capacity of more than 1 million US gallons and housed moving stages and props, longline regulators, underwater cameras, speaker systems, fire elements, and an scuba crew to assist the performers.
What was it like being a part of Le Reve?
“It was hard to believe it at first, it was like a dream. I always had to work so hard as a competitive athlete but with Le Reve it felt so natural. They liked my style and that boosted my confidence. Like me, all the synchro swimmers were right out of competition, none of us had experience in shows, we didn’t know what to expect. We created a nice bond, going through the good and hard times together. Franco’s direction was, I want something aquatic, but I don’t want synchronized swimming. We had to create a lot of different pieces. The Aquatic Choreographer Dacha Nedorezova had us try ugly things, for us it looked ugly- not pointing our feet, not being perfectly in-sync.
The creation and training year was incredible, they had a red-carpet entrance for the first day, they gave us an apartment for 2, a car to share with 4 people, they fed us at work, provided us with food per diems, and a salary. For me, going from an athlete with no salary to getting paid for what I love, was like wow this is really what I want to do. I felt like a rock star.
Castmates were from across the globe, speaking different languages. I spoke French and learned a little English. When the show was ready and we moved to Las Vegas, it was a different experience. I was 20 years old, I had to really learn English, and how everything worked in the US, it was definitely a big culture shock. But I was lucky, fellow castmate, acrobat Raman Stsepaniuk and I fell in love, and we were married in 2008.”
The AVATAR Experience
Since opening Ovia Entertainment, you and/or your performers have been in some amazing projects. One of the highpoints is being cast as an aquatic stunt performer for the movie AVATAR: The Way of Water. Tell us about that experience.
“First the audition was amazing, you had to be invited. I was lucky to have a friend and former Le Reve castmate submit me for consideration. The audition was mainly to see how we moved in the water and how long we could hold our breath.”
Synchro swimmers are stunning athletes known for having incredible stamina, strength, and breath holding ability. There are numerous interviews with the stars of the movie detailing how they were taught the art of freediving, several learned to hold their breaths for 5 minutes or longer underwater. Did you undergo any of that training?
“Yes, we were trained by a professional. Freediving is very different than synchronized swimming, in freediving you learn how to take more air into your lungs, and how to calm your heartrate, it is a very different way to warm up your lungs. In synchro you are not calm you are very energetic, and you only have seconds to grab breaths during a routine. I do stress that people should not try this on their own, they should work with a trained professional to learn the technique.”
When you watch the movie at the theatre, what are your thoughts?
“I’ve seen the movie numerous times, I cry every time I watch it, not just because I was lucky to be a part of it but because the story line is amazing. James Cameron inspired me so much, the way he would explain a scene and his imagination was so beautiful. I remember how mesmerizing he was and how he got me hooked to the scene. He was telling a story and building our character. Now in my sport they judge performance and musicality in competition, I use his technique to explain the routine to the swimmers.
Seeing my name in the credits is surreal. I have such a tiny role, but the title of the movie and story line truly resonates with me. For me, water is my way of life, I just loved the story behind it. In the Scully’s new home, they learn to adapt to it, to live surrounded by water, in the water, and respect for the creatures in the water. That’s why it’s so relevant to me, I can relate to the characters in the script, the locals trying to teach the new commers how to respect the water.”
Advice for Small Business Owners
As a small business owner, Ludi has become very successful in carving a niche in the entertainment industry. Only two years after founding Ovia Entertainment, she was named to the 2018 Vegas, Inc. 40 Under 40 business professionals, a very distinguished and highly competitive accolade. Over 300 nominations were submitted for consideration. Ludi was one of 19 women named to the list and the only female business owner to receive the honor.
Many pool builders and retailers are small business owners like yourself. Do you have any advice for them?
“It’s all about the quality of your product, project, or service, I don’t want to go cheap, stay true to yourself and don’t go the cheap way. Yes, my price may be a little bit higher, but they need to understand why they are going to pay for that service.
My second advice would be to really listen to what the client wants. I look for the approval of the clients, that’s very important to me. I focus on the quality of my projects and the satisfaction of my clients.
Know your craft, but you can always learn something new. I am an expert in synchro swimming, but I can always find someone who knows more than I do on a certain subject. I had never done freediving or motion capture until AVATAR, the experts on set taught me. It makes me richer in skills. Learn from others, learn from your competition, and from your mistakes. Accept and own your mistake, apologize, and promise you will make it right.
Adapt and adjust to circumstances. We all learned from Covid about adapting. The mantra for Le Reve was “The show must go on”, we never cancelled a show. So, this is just how I live my life.
You also need to be a good problem solver. I’m a good problem solver, especially when I have a timeline, I’m going to be very stressed out for 24 or 36 hours, but I will find a solution.”
Functionality of a Pool
When Joey and I meet with a client, there are some key questions we ask to assist us in designing their project. Function is a key element, how they intend to use the pool. Is there any advice you would like to give to pool builders when it comes to functionality of a pool.
“I’ve been to a lot of different pools. I mentioned it earlier, the safety element using non-slip deck tiles around a pool and the use of alternative sanitizers. I also prefer entry steps in the pool instead of ladders. I love wet decks, it adds so much more character to the pool, and I use them in my shows. I also love the look of the infinity edge. And lastly, underwater sound systems would be a huge plus in pools.”
You have already hit some major highpoints, what does the future hold for Ludi?
“I have a few dreams. I feel accomplished when I’m really a part of the project, where I have more control, because that’s who I am, I like to lead, I like to have a say in it. I would love to expand my creative side, to create aquatic stunt segments for motion pictures, and to develop an aquatic themed show in Las Vegas. In 2020, I choreographed a cast of more than 2-dozen aquatic performers for the VIP opening night party of the Circa Resort & Casino at Stadium Swim. And in 2021, I was hired as the aquatic choreographer for the music video Seduce by hip-hop artist Russ. Shot in Atlanta, GA, I had a cast of 26 synchro swimmers.
Both experiences were very satisfying creatively. Another dream is to build my own aquatic training center, a pool where we could do everything from swimming lessons to artistic swimming, high-level training, diving, and aquatic stunts.”
Ovia Entertainment – “Transforming Pools into Magical Liquid Stages!” 702-505-3687 https://oviaentertainment.com/
Featured Photo: Ludivine “Ludi” Perrin-Stsepaniuk, President of Ovia Entertainment, Head Coach for the Nevada Desert Mermaids (NDM) and Coach for USA Artistic Swimming, on deck at the NDM training pool in Las Vegas. )
Photo Credit: Mary Vail, MBA Publicist
Western Pool & Spa Show Celebrating 45th Anniversary
This year marks the 45th anniversary of the Western Pool & Spa Show which has been held annually in Long Beach, CA for the last 30 years. Last year over 10,000 pool and spa industry professionals attended the Western Pool & Spa Show making it one of the best-attended national shows in the country.
The Western Pool & Spa Show Celebrates 2 Milestones
We recently had the opportunity to chat with Eric Nielson, Director of the Western Pool & Spa Show on the pool magazine podcast. He gave us some insight into the history behind the annual event.
“It started off as a small tabletop and has grown, and this will also be our 30th year in the city which has become our home, Long Beach. So there are two milestones that we’re kind of celebrating,” said Nielson.
“Years ago, there was a small group of manufacturers, sales reps, and a few pool guys who simply got together and said, ‘Hey, maybe we should do something to educate people out there in the San Fernando Valley'”, said Nielson.
“They put together a small event in Studio City and it grew into something bigger. I believe it was Ray Pak or one of the heater companies that said, ‘Hey, maybe could we put one of our products out in the hall?’, and that was the impetus of the show floor. So they started that and then they brought in more things and it just sort of grew and grew from there. It moved from there to the convention center in Pasadena and then we outgrew that. Then there was a little time in Anaheim and now we’ve been 30 years in Long Beach,” explained Nielson.
The Western Show Has Evolved & Has Something For Everyone
The Western Show as it’s called in the trade has certainly evolved over the years, from being traditionally known as a “Service Show” to incorporating more involvement with the pool construction side of the industry. With a wide array of educational opportunities and seminars available for attendees to take, it also provides excellent value for attendees.
The show which runs from March 23-35 is open to the pool trade only. Registration is required and features workshops on how to become a CPO, seminars on electrical and plumbing, as well as workshops that are available in Spanish.
“We’re all volunteers and our focus is on education,” said Nielson, “everything that we do is geared towards us being able to provide that high-quality opportunity for educating the industry. This year we have lots of different classes that people can come and take advantage of for a very inexpensive price. For $115. You can come all three days, take any one of 90 different classes including programs for Spanish-speaking attendees. You really can’t get that anyplace else.”
Educational workshops are being held by Pentair, Hayward, and Fluidra as well as by Watershape University, Pool Nation, Orenda Technologies, Taylor Technologies, PAL Lighting, as well as many others. The class schedule and exhibit hours for this event are as follows:
Thursday, March 23, 2023
Education: 1:00 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.
Exhibit Hours: 6:00 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday, March 24, 2023
Education: 8:00 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.
Exhibit Hours: 2:00 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday, March 24, 2023
Education: 8 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Exhibit Hours: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The Western Pool & Spa Show does hourly drawings and a big giveaway at the end of the event. “We’re going to give away $20,000 in cash,” said Nielson, “in total, we also ended up giving away almost $60,000 worth of prizes last year. Second prize last year we had a pump, heater, filter, a whole equipment pad from Pentair. We have hourly drawings. This year we’re working with AquaCal Autopilot. They are donating a heat pump which is valued at about $9,000.”
The Western Show is also a great opportunity to network with professionals, distributors, and manufacturers as well as learn about the latest products and innovations. For those on the West Coast, it remains one of the easiest shows to get to and provides some of the best value in terms of the educational opportunities available for pool professionals.
Pool Magazine will definitely be in the house as well so make sure to stop by our booth (#216) and pick up the spring issue featuring Lucas Congdon, host of Insane Pools and owner of Lucas Lagoons.
Want to learn more about the Western Pool & Spa Show? Listen in on our conversation with Eric Nielson on the Pool Magazine podcast.
Floating Swimming Pool Proposed For San Francisco Bay Area
A floating swimming pool has been proposed for the city of San Francisco and set to be the city’s first public pool of its kind, bringing a new type of aquatic experience to the Bay Area. Located on the San Francisco Bay, the heated, Olympic-sized pool would float on Piers 30-32, which are currently used for parking and will be rebuilt as part of the project.
The proposed floating pool would be surrounded by retail space, offices, and housing, including an apartment tower with 725 units, 25% of which would offer affordable housing. San Francisco State Senator Scott Wiener proposed legislation in 2021 authorizing the construction of the pool on the state-owned piers. The plan proposes a unique recreational and relaxation space while also protecting the city’s waterfront from climate change and sea-level rise.
The concept has faced challenges, as previous attempts to revitalize the piers have been unsuccessful. Previous plans to turn the area into a stadium, a museum, and a cruise terminal have fallen through. However, Wiener is optimistic that this project will succeed. He believes that the previous plans failed because they tried to rehabilitate the piers, while this project involves completely rebuilding them. The success of the project depends on approval from the city, state, and various other agencies.
The floating pool would be built on one of the two piers, with the other pier being converted into 375,000 square feet of offices and 45,000 square feet of retail space. The swimming pool would include space for lap swimming, water polo games, and lounging in a hot tub. A section of the Bay surrounding the pool will be dedicated to open water swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
The project, similar to the Plus Pool being proposed for the East River in New York City, aims to create an attractive and sustainable space that will enhance the waterfront, providing opportunities for new homes and public spaces that can be enjoyed by all.
The new plan for the project is a change from earlier versions, which emphasized commercial space on the piers, giving the impression of a large office park with a little waterfront recreation. The latest version of the project emphasizes swimming, with a focus on public access to the Bay and views of the Bay Bridge. The plan now calls for a single pier to be rebuilt, with the remaining pier to be converted into an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a shallow pool for people learning to swim, a hot tub, and shower facilities. Along the Embarcadero, there would be a market hall with food kiosks and artisan stands where makers can sell their goods.
The project’s developers, Strada Investment Group and Trammell Crow, hope to attract bay swimmers with a roped-off area similar to the aquatic park near Crissy Field. They plan to heat the pools, most likely with fresh water, rather than the frigid water pumped in from the Bay. Developers have also released new renderings of the piers, which is more public-oriented than previous plans.
The piers’ redevelopment plan is designed to revitalize the Embarcadero and make it a more enjoyable public experience. The project’s success depends on making the Embarcadero feel less like walking by a couple of office building lobbies and more like an engaging, waterfront destination. The concept has undergone several changes in response to feedback from state agencies, particularly those that regulate the waterfront. The changes reflect the desire to create a space that is more in line with the natural environment, with a greater emphasis on public spaces and water recreation.
The project has faced several challenges, including the fact that the site where the project is proposed to be built is owned by the state, which means that special legislative approval would be required before a developer can build there. The project must also get approval from the city, the state, and several other agencies.
Developers hope that the floating pool will provide a unique aquatic experience in San Francisco, drawing locals and tourists alike to the Bay Area. The concept has received strong support from San Francisco Mayor London Breed, who said that the project would help the city to invest in critical infrastructure that would protect the waterfront from climate change and sea level rise while also creating opportunities for new homes and new spaces for the public to enjoy along the city’s gorgeous waterfront.
Photo Credits: Strada Investment Group
Cyberattack on Pool in Israel a Wake-Up Call For Pool Pros
A recent cyberattack on a swimming pool in Israel should be a wake up call for pool professionals everywhere.
The recent cyberattack on a hotel pool controller in Israel highlights the potential risks and vulnerabilities that the pool industry faces in terms of hackers affecting Operational Technology (OT) security. As the use of technology in pool systems continues to increase, it is important for pool companies and professionals to understand the potential dangers and take steps to protect themselves and their clients.
Hackers Shine Spotlight on Lack of Security
The hacktivist group GhostSec claimed it breached the hotel’s pool water system and could control the pH and chlorine levels in the pools. The attackers did not disclose the details of the OT breach, but researchers at Otorio, a cybersecurity company specializing in OT security, investigated the incident and found two Aegis II controllers that were exposed.
hope you all can understand our decision on not attacking their PH levels and risking a chance to harm the innocents of #Israel
Our “war” has always been FOR the people not against them. #FreePalestine
Details:https://t.co/7hczY9Owh1 pic.twitter.com/wGa7YXCbfV— GhostSec (@ghost_s3curity) September 11, 2022
The Aegis II controller is a device used to monitor and control the chemical concentration in water in locations such as swimming pools, spas, and water parks. The controllers can communicate with other systems, such as pumps, heaters, and sensors, to maintain water quality.
In this case, the AEGIS II here was responsible for continuously measuring and controlling the conductivity and biocide concentration to keep pipework and heat exchangers clean.
The AEGIS II Controller’s applications included:
- Control of bleeding in evaporation cooling systems
- Control of corrosion inhibitors, de-foamers and dispersants
- Measuring and control of inhibitor concentration
- Measuring and control of pH and ORP voltage
- Metering of biocides
According to Otorio’s report, the hackers could have potentially affected the pH levels of the hotel’s pools, but there is no evidence that any harm was done to the guests or the facility. However, the incident raises concerns about the growing threat of OT cyberattacks and their impact on critical infrastructure and public safety.
Targeting Pool Automation Devices With Weak Security
One of the key concerns in the pool industry is the use of programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and other ICS devices that are used to monitor and control the various aspects of pool systems, such as chemical levels, temperature, pumps, and lighting. These devices can be vulnerable to cyberattacks if they are not properly secured, especially if they are connected to the Internet or other networks.
OT cyberattacks are not new, but they are becoming more frequent, sophisticated, and disruptive. Unlike hackers that focus on stealing data or disrupting services, OT attacks can have physical consequences, such as equipment damage, production loss, environmental damage, or human harm.
Finding Out Exactly How It Happened
In the case of this particular pool controller breach, the attackers were able to access the Aegis II controllers with default passwords, which is a common weakness that can be easily exploited. Once the attackers gained access to the controllers, they could potentially manipulate the chemical levels in the pools, which could cause harm to the swimmers or damage to the equipment.
At the discovery of this breach, OTORIO promptly informed Israel’s Cyber Emergency Response Team (CERT) of the incident and worked closely with the authorities to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. As of now, the affected controller is no longer accessible to the public.
This incident highlights the importance for pool professionals to take a proactive approach to OT security by implementing best practices and security controls, such as:
- Changing default passwords and using strong and unique passwords for each device and user
- Updating firmware and software patches regularly to fix known vulnerabilities
- Segmenting the network and restricting access to critical devices and systems
- Encrypting data in transit and at rest to prevent unauthorized access
- Monitoring the system for suspicious activities and anomalies that could indicate a cyberattack
- Having a comprehensive incident response plan in place to minimize the impact of a cyberattack and restore normal operations as quickly as possible.
Installers who are performing upgrades or new installations of equipment should also stay informed about the latest trends and threats in OT security and seek guidance from cybersecurity experts or specialized vendors if needed. By taking a proactive and collaborative approach to OT security, pool professionals can help mitigate the risk of hackers gaining access to equipment and ensure the safety and satisfaction of their clients.
Western Pool & Spa Show Celebrating 45th Anniversary
Pentair Pool Leadership Announced
Claiming Your Swimming Pool as a Tax Deduction
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