Maureen Croes, FINA Media Committee member

The 2019 FINA Artistic Swimming World Series has arrived at its seventh stop in Quebec City, Canada. Over the next three days, some of world’s best artistic swimming athletes will be competing in the Desjardins Aquatic Centre at PEPS de l’Universite Laval. The ASWS series initiated in March in Paris (FRA), followed by stops in Greece, Russia, Japan, China, and USA. Thirteen delegations from Argentina, Australia, China, Colombia, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, Singapore, and host Canada have registered to compete in Canada.  

For Canada’s Lisa Schott, FINA Technical Delegate and Artistic Swimming Technical Committee Chairperson, this leg has an extra special meaning: “I am very proud that Canada is hosting it, I try to take a leadership role within our continent. I think it is really important for the sport, in all of the America’s, that our continent be part of the FINA family Artistic Swimming World Series. I am sure, that I am tough on the local organising committee, as I am sharing all the best practices from hosts around the world and asking them to raise the bar.”

The 2019 ASWS has one more leg in Barcelona, Spain (May 31, June 1-2) andthen will finish with a Super Final in Budapest. According to Schott, “each leg of the series has seen at least a 50% increase in participation compared to previous season”. Schott thanked all the federations for the increase in participation. She, also, thanked FINA for the increase in prize money for the series, the TASC for their hard work on development. She is hopeful that the increase in popularity will eventually lead to an increase in events in the Olympic Games. Referring to the fact that Artistic Swimming is one of only two sports in the Olympic Games who do not have gender equality, Schott urged the federations to help in the quest to get the Mixed events on the Olympic programme.

The seventh leg, starting on Thursday, May 30 will see eight soloists taking part in the Solo Tech, seven soloists in the Solo Free, 12 duets in the Duet Tech, 11 duets in the Duet Free, two duets in the Mixed Duet Tech, one duet in the Mixed Duet Free, five teams in the Team Tech, three teams in the Team Free, three teams in the Combination and two teams in the Highlight routine.

Photo by Dan Robichaud

In both the solo events, Japan’s super star Yukiko Inui is the clear favourite. As a soloist Inui, has won a combined five gold and one silver in the technical and free solos in previous legs. Challenging her will be the hometown favourite Jacqueline Simoneau, who has claimed three gold, two silver and two bronze medals as a soloist, but has not been able to beat Inui. 

In the duet events, the debut participation and comeback of China’s Xuechen Huang & Wenyan Sun will make these events one of the highlights of the week. Xuechen Huang, China’s most decorated Artistic Swimming athlete has been out of the water for three years while also becoming a mother two years ago. Xuechen Huang has won five Olympic medals spread over three Olympic Games, 16 World Championship medals, and was named FINA 2014 Artistic Swimming Athlete of the Year. Wenyan Sun, a three-time Olympic silver medalist and 11-time world medallist had been on hiatus for two years. Japan’s duet Yukiko Inui & Megumu Yoshida and Canada’s duet Jacqueline Simoneau & Claudia Holzner, already having won two gold and four silver medals and two gold, two silver and two bronze medals respectively in the 2019 ASWS, will certainly add to the excitement of the duet events.

The mixed Duet events will feature China’s Yayi Zhang & Haoyu Shi who have won two silvers and one bronze in previous legs. 

In the technical and free team events, China will be the team to watch, but Canada, Hungary, Korea and Australia will be striding for spots on the podium. 

China’s head Coach Wang Jie is excited to be in Canada, praising the Organising Committee for their professionalism. Explaining that China is ready to show the world all of their routines: “Our routines are all new, and we want to show the world our best possible and we will be participating in one month in Korea at the World Championships, so this competition is very important for us. Our goal is to be the best we can be.”

On the final day of weekends’ competition, the Combo and Highlight events are on the programme. Canada will debut its Combo routine, but Hungary and Korea have been showcasing their routine in previous legs and surely have been gaining confidence.

The programme for the ASWS 7th leg Quebec City (CAN):

Thursday May 30

14:00 Solo Technical

17:45 Duet Technical

19:15 Mixed Duet Technical

20:00 Team Technical

Friday May 31

17:30 Duet Free

18:45 Mixed Duet Free

19:30 Team Free

Saturday June 1

16:30 Solo Free

16:15 Free Combination

17:15 Highlight Team

18:30 Gala Exhibition