The Junior World Championships are held every two years and are about to begin on Saturday in Kazan, Russia. Junior Worlds are always exciting, as fans not only get to witness the future of the sport, but they are also a place where the traditional hierarchy get shaken up. The general trend of regression or progression from the senior category is usually reflected with the juniors, but the figure scores have the potential to bring new nations to the podium.
- Last time out: 2014 Worlds in Helsinki, Finland.
During the 2014 World Championships, Japan did the impossible and beat Russia in the free combination category by a mere 0.1 points. Beating the Russians is no small feat in synchronized swimming, and that victory showed that the next generation of Japanese swimmers will likely maintain their country on the international podiums for many years to come.
In the solo competition, Russia’s Anisiya Neborako came out on top, followed by Canada’s Jacqueline Simoneau and Japan’s Asuka Tasaki. Simoneau is now headed to Rio to represent Canada in the duet event at the Olympics in a few weeks.
Japan gave a very good scare to Russia in the duet category as well. The Russian duet only won with the very slight margin of 0.13 ahead of Japan. Russia was represented by 17-year-old twins from Moscow Anastasia and Daria Bayandina, who both now train with the senior national team. China happily rounded up the duet podium after a fourth place finish at the 2012 Worlds.
In the team event, Russia once again came out victorious, followed by Japan and China.
- What to expect this year
As with every synchro competition, we should expect the Russian team to come out on top, especially in front of their home crowd. Japan will look to repeat their incredible performance and will fight to beat Russia once again.
China and Ukraine will be in the hunt for medals as well. Moreover, Spain should not be counted out quite yet. While the results have dipped for the Spanish senior team, the juniors have been able to remain in medal contention with very solid results in the figure competition and have managed to keep Italy at bay, a feat not managed by the senior team.
The 2016 Junior European Championships concluded in Rijeka, Croatia a few weeks ago and had a few surprises. The Greek duet was able to grab a bronze medal, a rare feat for this nation, by passing both Spain and Italy. While a similar result will be hard to repeat with China and Japan now in the mix, the Greeks are likely to continue upsetting the European hierarchy.
Keep an eye out for the young Belarusian soloist Vasilina Khandoshka (born in 2001), who skyrocketed through the rankings thanks to her great figure scores, inching her way in the top 10 and very close to France’s Inesse Guermoud. Khandoshka was actually second of all soloists in figure scores, even beating the Russian soloist. We can very well expect her to keep improving and potentially be on top of a junior European or World podium very soon. The Belarusian duet is also one to watch and may create some upset.
Similarly, Liechtenstein’s soloist Lara Mechnig should be a treat and was impressive in Rijeka with her high barracuda boosts. Liechtenstein is a very new country to synchronized swimming, and this is the first time the nation is represented at Junior Worlds. Their swimmers are already showing great promises, and Mechnig has the potential to shake up the hierarchy in the next few years.
On the other side of the Atlantic, Canada will look to match Simoneau’s solo results from two years ago. Their soloist Halle Pratt was the youngest member of the 2014 Worlds team, and her experience on the international scene should be an asset for her. The United States of America are sending a full team and hope to improve on their 8th place team finish from 2014. Anita Alvarez was a member of that squad and is now headed to Rio in the duet event. As of July 7, Brazil had not sent any entries to take part in this competition.