The Padded Lillies are a women's fat empowerment synchronized swimming group based in Oakland.


The Padded Lillies formed in 1997, out of the Making Waves swim group, which books an indoor pool in the Bay Area for two hours of private swimming for plus size women only. Two of the women, Shirley Sheffield and Timnah, saw a group of women practicing water aerobics and decided to create "synchro swim for fat women!" Sheffield said that the idea would be "really funny." They were introduced to Diane Tulley, from Golden Gate Synchrony, who taught children how to do synchronized swimming. Tulley met with them at a Making Waves event and showed interested women some synchronized swimming moves. 

Tulley choreographed the Padded Lillies first performance, "Broadway Babes," which took place at a water show hosted by Tulley. The piece featured swimming choreographed to various Broadway show tunes. They performed "Ode on a Lilly Pond" on The Tonight Show. Tulley moved away in 2004.


The Padded Lillies home pool is the Albany Pool. The group has four primary performers, including Sheffield.