Maureen Croes, FINA Media Committee Member

The Japanese athletes were on fire the first day of competition in the Greensboro Aquatic Centre, winning 3 of the 4 events contested. After the official opening with a parade of all the athletes of the 10 participating countries as well as domestic and international clubs, the 6th leg of the FINA Artistic Swimming World Series got on its way today with the Free Duet Event.

Eleven routines were vying for the podium, but there was no match for the Japanese Duet Yukiko Inui and Megumu Yoshida, with a score of 92.3083, the pair earned the first gold medal of this day and the first gold medal for Japan in this event in the ASWS. Their powerful, fast, but cleanly swum performance honored the theme of the routine: Time Leap.

In Tokyo the pair received a 94.2000 and a silver medal. When asked if they were satisfied with their swim and score, the pair admitted that they were “satisfied with their swim but wanted a higher score”. The bronze medal went to Canada’s Jacqueline Simoneau and Claudia Holzner. With a score of 89.4500 this pair has now won 1 of every color in this event in the ASWS.

The USA, who is making its debut in the ASWS, was the first routine of the evening and immediately set the standard for the routines to follow. When all 11 routines had their chance to showcase to the world, the performance of USA’s Anita Alvarez and Lindi Schroeder was the bronze medal winning routine. The routine swum to a contrasting mix of rap and R & B with a choreography that showed connection to the words of the song. With a score of 86.0083, Alvarez and Schroeder gave the USA their first medal in the ASWS. Coach Reem Abdalazem was very pleased with the performance:

“I think going first was a good thing for them, because this was the first time that they swam on a world level and have only been training together for the past month and a half. There is a lot of potential to this duet. This routine is very innovative with rap music that has never been done before, the routine has a perfect contrast between really strong, sharp explosive and smooth, flowy moves”

In the Mixed Free Duet there was only 1 entry from a domestic Club, the Cincinnati Synchrogators. With the score of 65.5750 Erin Gorney and Chris Leahy delighted the audience with a gold medal performance.

The gold medal honors for the Technical Solo event went to Japan’s Yukiko Inui. The theme, Miracle Star, very fitting for her performance for which she received 91.8795 from the judges. This is Yukiko’s second gold in this event at the ASWS. Canada’s Jacqueline Simoneau finished her routine very excited and happy with her score of 88.2067, good for the silver medal. Simoneau, who has won 2 golds in previous legs of the ASWS, explained:

“Every world series has a certain standard, and Greensboro, like the other 3 I have been at, has met the standard. We are gearing up to show better performance next week, it will be a huge step up compared to this week.”

Colombia, who participated in Tokyo in the duet events, participated for the first time in the Solo and Team events here in Greensboro. It was a great debut for Monica Arango as she won the first medal for Colombia in the ASWS by scoring 79.0542 to finish in 3rd place with her solo swum to music by Stromae’s Quand C’est.

The final event in Greensboro was a highlight of the evening. The Technical Team Event saw another stellar gold medal performance by Japan. This is Japan’s second gold in this event, and with the 92.0689 they also surpassed their score from the last gold medal performance in Tokyo. Japan’s coaching staff were pleased with the results of the first day:

“We have higher goals and need to build our technique more; we have to continue working for higher goals and higher scores.”

The silver medal went to Team USA who performed their Racing to the Finish themed routine. The routine depicts the journey one takes to win a race. Coach Andrea Fuentes was satisfied with the 85.5973 score they received from the judges:

“I am proud of how we started, it’s the first time on the world stage and this is only the beginning of the journey.”

When asked about the routine they just performed, USA’s Daniella Ramirez explained:

“Recently everything has changed in USA Synchro, with the new coaches we have found the passion and the love for Synchro again, things have changed for the better. We have really cool stuff in our routines, we want to be innovative and push the sport forward.”

In a very close race for the bronze medal, Colombia scored 75.7722 to edge out Hungary to claim their second medal of this series. Colombia’s Jenny Hatiusca was thrilled:

“We are very happy, it is an achievement that we have been working on, it is a way of understanding that things can be done and I think in Colombia all the people are very proud of what we could do here.”

Leg 6 of the ASWS will continue tomorrow with Technical Duet, Free Solo, and the Free Team events.