The second to last competition of the inaugural FINA World Series is already upon us. The Synchro America Open is set to begin on June 22 in Long Island, N.Y. The roster has been unveiled, and many nations will be showing off their routines for the first time this season, and with a little less than 30 days to go before the World Championships in Budapest.
In the solo event, fans will be treated to Ona Carbonell as she looks to continue improving her two new solos before Worlds. Carbonell’s last outing was at the Spanish Open, where she came quite close to being beaten by Ukraine’s Anna Voloshyna in the free solo. While likely not as threatening as Voloshyna, Carbonell’s direct competitor in Long Island will be Jacqueline Simoneau from Canada who is also presenting new choreographies this year. Both swimmers have coincidentally been working with Virginie Dedieu.
Additionally, the home crowd will surely be delighted to watch Anita Alvarez. The American already presented her solo at the China Open earlier this season but very few have actually seen the routine. Argentina’s Camilla Arregui will also be back for us since her last big international outing last March. Israel is sending the young Yael Polka, and Germany will be represented by Michelle Zimmer. A few young Russian swimmers representing the region of Tartastan will also compete in this event and should be a treat to watch as we all know talent in Russia runs deep in synchro.
On the domestic side of things, we will get a solo from Christopher Leahy of the Cincinnati YMCA Synchrogators. He already participated in the U.S. Nationals, and his presence here will be very much appreciated and looked forward to in a time where male representation is crucial for our sport to continue growing.
The duet event looks to be the most stacked. Spain’s duet of Carbonell and Paula Ramirez is coming in as the favorite to win, as the two recently beat Ukraine’s duet once again for the first time in four years and look poised to fight for a medal at the World Championships.
Following the mid-season retirement of Karine Thomas, Canada is sending its revamped duet to this meet. Throughout the season, we had witnessed two Canadian pairs: Thomas / Simoneau, vs. Gabrielle Brisson / Claudia Holzner. Fortunately, both were swimming the same routines, so finding a new partner for Simoneau in either Brisson or Holzner was easy. We will find out who Simoneau is newly paired with here. Canada is also sending its junior duet of Emily Armstrong and Halle Pratt.
In exciting news, the Czech Republic’s duet of Alzbeta Dufkova and Sona Bernardova seems to be back on at this competition. These two had been swimming together for years until this season, where it looked like Bernardova might have retired. But it looks like she maybe changed her mind about that as she is entered in this competition… Either way, if Bernardova does end up swimming and is not an alternate, we are so here for it. Her longevity in the sport is incredible, and she just can’t retire ever.
Colombia’s Olympic duet (Estefania Alvarez/ Monica Arango) will make its first major international outing of the season. We can also expect duets from Argentina, Israel, Puerto Rico, Slovakia, the province of Tartastan and of course the U.S. to round out the field of competitors.
The mixed duet event will be just as exciting as we will get our first look of the season at the U.S.’ pair of Bill May and Kanako Spendlove. We had already gotten a glimpse of their work together last fall at the 2016 UANA Pan Am Championships, but the choreography has surely undergone many changes since. They will compete against the pairs from Canada, Germany and Panama.
Finally in the team event, we will get to watch Team USA for the first time this year as well. Since the team is composed of numerous college swimmers, the U.S. had to wait until the end of the collegiate competitive season to get its training squad together. Canada will be represented by its “NextGen” team, and Argentina will be rounding out the field of competitors. There are no international entries in the free combination and highlight events.
The detailed roster is available here.
Article by Christina Marmet
Photo is Team USA by Liz Corman