Olga Kamardina, FINA correspondent in Uzbekistan

The second edition of the FINA Artistic Swimming World Series has finally hit the tape in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The ultimate 3 titles settled three free routines closing down the 10-leg story of 2018. Two nations were seen on top, and 3 other teams were treated with the minor merits. Like the day before, Mexico was a class above the rest in the duet and solo programs. Slovakia finally landed gold, concluding the team duel against Uzbekistan in combo.

TEAM FREE COMBINATION

Photo: Credit to Vitaly Moon

“All team events” duel Uzbekistan vs. Slovakia came to a close in Tashkent with the Team Free Combination. Round#4 brought luck to Slovakia as they managed to collect their first ever title in this event to go with the silver they won in Beijing on Leg #2.

The hosts side opened the night presenting their international debut for the Japanese-themed “Kodo”, the brand new program, specially created for the home meet of the FINA Artistic Swimming World Series-2018. The 10-girls group was imitating Japanese drums with their legs and arms, as their patterns covered a good part of the swimming pool, and their soloists executed some impressive lifts. However, judges noted they have missed one. Earning 75.4667 points, they simply left the door open for Slovakia to go out and beat them.

Slovakia did the trick, taking their chance to land their first gold this week-end. Performing to the “Guardians of the Galaxy” soundtrack, they were convincing with the mood and energy up, and a high tempo of the execution. Receiving 75.8000 with 30.8000 points on the artistic impression, 22.7000 on the execution and 22.3000 on the difficulty, they overtook their opponents by 0.3333 point.

“We are super-happy, - confessed Gabor Szauder, head coach of the team Slovakia. – This is a good way to celebrate the good news, that we got yesterday. We finished second in the ranking of the FINA World Series. It is a great achievement for Slovakia, and it definitely helped us to win gold today. Early on start, girls executed 2 throws quite successfully, which always gives confidence for the whole team, and the verticals have been very fine today. We are very happy, we have managed to seal the season with a gold medal”.

Silver-winning Sofiya Garusova of Uzbekistan characterized their 2nd place in the Team Free Combination and 3 other gold medals earned at home in Team Technical, Team Free and Highlight, as a good credit for the future.

“We could have clinched the 4th gold to go, but we like our silver none the less, - explained the swimmer. – A lot of spectators came to watch us swimming and there were a lot of TV reports covering the FINA ASWS Leg#10, so we believe it should give a good impetus for development of our sport in the area. Our ultimate routine, which we performed in the Team Free Combination, was very interesting, we loved its choreography very much, and it is a pity, we have not succeeded to make it as we should. Missing a very impressive lift, we lost just 0.3333. Next year we shall work much harder to prove all these titles were not a coincidence”.

Photo: Credit to Vitaly Moon

Summary of the season: Ukraine dominated the season with 5 titles. They won every contest they took part, leaving opponents far behind them. Spain registered 3 medals, including 1 gold and 2 silver. China travelled to the podium 2 times, posting the score to beat on their home stage in April at 93.2667. Japan and Slovakia were also a part of the gold-winning club, finishing atop in Tokyo and Uzbekistan respectively.

SOLO FREE

Solo Free 12-girls final saw Nuria Lindon Diosdado Garcia of Mexico and the rest of the battlefield.

Following a good scenario of the Solo Technical the day before, she gave a commanding performance with her strong program called “Metamorphosis” by James Forster. She displayed a good height and clean lines, and earned a solid 84.0667, leaving her nearest challengers somewhere down.

Photo: Credit to Vitaly Moon

“I truly enjoyed swimming, - the winner confessed. – I do love my solo very much indeed. It’s something very personal. I love its the music, its swimsuit. The song was driving me forward, saying “it’s never enough”. For me it is always never enough. I always want to be better and to have better scores, and I will do my best to improve on the total at least by 1 point by the Central Americal Games this August”.

Germany’s Michelle Zimmer performed a water-themed program and booked silver, 78.9000. She edged out narrowly her compatriot Mariene Bojer with her vision of Adele’s “Love in the darkness”, 77.8000, but finished without a medal, to meet the regulations. The bronze was duly passed on to the Uzbekistan’s hope Khonzodakhon Tashkhudjaeva, 76.2667.

The local princess did neither show her best swim nor her best total, and said she was pretty sat on awarding bronze.

“I tried to mask my technical omissions by being emotional, but of course, it was not the best solution, - Khonzodakhon added. - The scoring was just, I did not show my best. I did not mean to upset my coach, and I promise to improve in the near future. Collaboration with a coach is very important, and I am grateful for everything she has been doing for me. She is very passionate and always looks like a mile ahead”.

For Michelle Zimmer of Germany winning silver was also about overcoming.

“When I entered the swimming pool for the warm-up today, I thought the swim would be a nightmare. It was too hot, - she commented. – Luckily, once the competitions started, the temperature of the air improved. Another incident happened to me in the water, during the swim. I started to perform one of the elements with a wrong leg. I had no time to think it over, and chose to improvise. None noticed that, so the trick worked out”.

Summary of the season: The 2018 soloist free program scoring is headed by Russian Svetlana Kolesnichenko. The 2016 Olympic champion and 13 times world champion set the bar at sky high 95.5000 point as the second season high was produced by another rising Russian Varvara Subbotina in Budapest, 95.3150. Like in a number of other ASWS events this edition, Yelyzaveta Yakhno of Ukraine turned out to be the most frequent awardee on 1 gold and 3 silver pieces. Overall in solo routines, she travelled to the podium 8 times to collect 2 gold, 5 silver and 1 bronze medal. Yukiko Inui of Japan collected 2 gold and 1 bronze in the free routine to complete her 2 gold and 1 silver of the technical portion. Linda Cerruti of Italy got a full set of medals in free and 1-0-2 in technical routine.

DUETS FREE

Photo: Credit to Vitaly Moon

Olympic finalists Nuria Lindón Diosdado García/Karen Faride Achach Ramírez confirmed their supremacy in the free routine, performing “Master of Tides” by Lindsey Stirling. Their radiant smiles shone bright to match Swarovski crystals embroidering their swimsuits. Mexicans were very confident and convincing in a routine with a high degree of difficulty. They finished first on 85.0000 points with 34.4000 for the artistic impression.

Speaking right after the session, the Mexican coach accompanied by her Kazakh and German colleagues, voiced huge concerns on low scoring.

“I think, they deserved more, - said Adriana Loftus on her duo’s gold-winning performance. - Two weeks ago, in Greece we got 87.0000. I understand, that the panel of judges is not the same, but I am pretty sure that my swimmers could have been scored higher.

Of course, we will proceed working hard to be able to improve on several points. It was our last meet before the Central American Games, scheduled on this August. In course of the last two weeks we got 8/8 gold medal wins (solo plus duets), which is a good result”.

Like in the duets event, the silver was between Germany and Kazakhstan. Asian Samba against Italian job, experience against junior vigor. Mariene Bojer & Daniela Reinhardt were strong executing difficult lifts and throws, but Kazakhs looked livelier, easier and charming. Judges had hesitation for a while assessing the swims and placed the Germans higher. As a result, they totaled 78.9333 to book their silver, and their leading gap again was not overwhelming – junior of Kazakhstan finished on 76.7000 with a sure promise to keep on perfecting to be a success at the FINA World Junior Artistic Swimming Championships in Budapest later this July.

“We tried to keep the energy up. It was a good routine, maybe a little underscored, and the duo has done everything they were supposed to, - said Germany’s coach Doris Ramadan. I think it was a good rehearsal for us before the European Artistic Swimming Championships in Glasgow”.

“According to the judges the routines, performed by Degtyareva/Russanova and by the German girls, were of the same quality, of the same degree of difficulty. We know, this is not true, and we had a more complicated program, - commented Kazakhstan’s coach Anna Kameneva. - We shall not dispute on the possible impacts of suchlike scoring, but we are not sat. One more medal for our junior duo is a good achievement, and we will proceed perfecting on ourselves to show even better swims in Budapest this July”.

Summary of the season: Jiang sisters of China and Nakamaki/Inui of Japan got 2 titles each, finishing atop in Beijing, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Surrey respectively. They also registered the season-high-over 92-scores, earned at the France Open and Canada Open (92.5667 and 92.9333). Ukranian duo Yelyzaveta Yakhno/Anastasiya Savchuk were the most frequent awardees at the Duet Free podiums, winning 1 gold and 3 silver pieces, whereas the overall medalists list was pretty broad, including 14 nations and 3 continents.

Photo: Credit to Vitaly Moon

OVERALL RECAP

It will be pretty hard for the next nation-competitors both to improve and to repeat the mark set in the 2nd edition of the FINA Artistic Swimming World Series. Ukraine earned sky high 19 golds at stake as well as 13 silver and 2 bronze medals. Japan was the next frequent-winning nation in the circuit (11 gold, 10 silver, 9 bronze), Mexico got 11 gold medals whereas Italy, Russia and China finished on 10 champions titles to go with a number of minor medals.

Comparing to the inaugural circuit, the geography of the winning nations in 2018 increased to 26 flags, alongside the participation figures exceeded 30.

Lisa Schott, FINA Technical Delegate, FINA Artistic Swimming Technical Committee Chairwoman:

"There is the one thing which the Uzbekistan stop did well to promote artistic swimming in their country. It was the Aquatic Gala show, which took place today, on Competition Day 3, and saw little kids from 5 years old right up to adults, dancing in the water. They also engaged international swimmers, which was a pleasure to watch.

Photo: Credit to Vitaly Moon

Unfortunately, there were a lot of issues with the marks to cause some disappointment among the athletes. For example, some of the things I am not convinced in today was the ranking, in particular, in the Solo Free program. I personally did apologize to some athletes.

There is a wide range of evaluation means available for the judges which they could have used much better here, in Uzbekistan. We will definitely draw conclusions. Tactically, we are on the right track, as the next year we will have the difficulty “predetermined”, which will take away some of the issues. On the other hand, we have developed a completely new school pathway for officials. All these things will be put in place.

10 stops were engaging the world in the artistic swimming. There are the countries which are in the top echelon, like Chine, Japan, Ukraine and Russia. And there are developing artistic swimming nations, who can go out here or there, compete more often and heal success. And the story is not about feeling a success only. According to the results shown in the event, FINA is providing prize money for the athletes, which is also of great importance and gives impetus for their development.

 

Every sport needs to have something, takes place regularly around the world and encourages athletes to compete and different people to win in different locations. I hope to do more than that. We shall actually see a Super Final next year, where the best of the best will take part. The best of the best – based not on marks, but on points they are awarded. Some of another bright prospects, for 2024 I would very much like to see the FINA Artistic Swimming World Series attached as the Olympic Qualification".

Competition results. FINA Artistic Swimming World Series 2018. Competition Day 3

Women Team Free Combination

1. SLOVAKIA (Bacharova Julia, Bodikova Zuzana, Horska Romana,Lengyelova Dina, Iakovlev Anastasia, Kvasnovska Kristina, Lisa Laura, Novotna Barbora, Slezakova Rebecca, Suranova Sophia, Miskechova Diana – R, Daabousova Nada – R) 75.8000

2. UZBEKISTAN (Eltisheva Anna, Khakimova Khurshida, Morozova Anastasiya, Onkez Diana, Salieva Alina Ruzmetova, Thoshkhudjaeva Khonzodakhon, Tulkinova Mokhorakhon, Tulkinova Nozimakhon, Garusova Sofiya, Ruzmetova Anastasiya - R, Yuldasheva Gulsanam - R) 75.4667

Solo Free

1. Diosdado Garcia Nuria Lindon (MEX) 84.0667

2. Zimmer Michelle (GER) 78.9000

3. Toshkhudjaeva Khonzodakhon (UZB) 76.2667

4. Daabousova Nada (SVK) 75.7333

5. Damyanova Hristina (BUL) 75.6667

6. Garusova Sofiya (UZB) 69.0000

7. Bojer Marlene (GER) 77.8000

8. Tashkhudjaeva Ziyodakhon (Tashkent, UZB) 66.1667

9. Xayotova Sabriniso (Bukhara, UZB) 62.3000

10. Vashenko Anna (Tashkent, UZB) 60.8333

11. Bozorova Begoyim (Andijan, UZB) 58.5667

12. Muzaffarova Gulasal (Bukhara, UZB) 57.4667

Women Duets Free

1. Achach Ramirez Karen Faride/Diosdado Garcia Nuria Lindon (MEX) 85.0000

2. Reinhardt Daniela/Bojer Mariene (GER) 78.9333

3. Russanova Jennifer/Degtyareva Yana (KAZ) 76.7000

4. Daabousova Nada/Miskechova Diana (SVK) 76.5333

5. Morozova Anastasiya/Eltisheva Anna (UZB) 75.4667

6. Onkes Diana/Garusova Sofiya (UZB) 69.7667

7. Tashxujaeva Ziyodakhon/Vashenko Anna (Tashkent, UZB) 63.9333

8. Shaxbozova Moxidil/Bozorova Begoyim (Andijan, UZB) 58.6667

9. Abdurashidova Dilorom/Muzafarova Gulasal (Bukhara, UZB) 54.5333

10. Djunaeva Shirin/Fayzieva Sabina (Bukhara, UZB) 51.9667

Photo: Credit to Vitaly Moon

Overall Medals Ranking of the Leg#10, Tashkent (UZB)

1. Uzbekistan: 4 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze

2. Mexico: 4 gold

3. Slovakia: 1 gold, 3 silver, 1 bronze

4. Kazakhstan: 1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze

5. Germany: 2 silver, 1 bronze

 

Overall Medals Ranking of the FINA Artistic Swimming World Series 2018. Top 10

1. Ukraine: 19 gold, 13 silver, 2 bronze

2. Japan: 11 gold, 10 silver, 9 bronze

3. Mexico: 11 gold

4. Italy: 10 gold, 7 silver, 4 bronze

5. China: 10 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze

6. Russia: 10 gold

7. Spain: 9 gold, 5 silver, 7 bronze

8. France: 8 gold, 10 silver, 5 bronze

9. Uzbekistan: 6 gold, 4 silver, 3 bronze

10. Slovakia: 3 gold, 6 silver, 4 bronze