For its first time out of the season, Mexico dominated the competition at the Hellas Beetles Cup, the ninth leg of the FINA World Series, in Syros, Greece. The Mexicans won every event they were entered in, while Russia and Italy each took a gold in the mixed duet events. Finally, France earned the final gold in highlight.
Led by its pair of Olympians Nuria Diosdado and Karem Achach, the Mexicans presented all seven routines they will compete later this summer at the Central American and Caribbean Games. Diosdado performed her free solo to the song “Never Enough” from the movie The Greatest Showman, while her teammate Joana Jimenez won technical solo with her routine set to “Dream On” by Aerosmith.
Diosdado was paired with Achach for both duet events, which they comfortably won. It is difficult to comment on anything related to the free duet event (for most of the nations for that matter) as the live stream missed about 75% of the routines.
Unfortunately, the Mexicans did not present anything new in the team events. The technical team is the same fast-paced routine as in 2017, set to a jazzy/blues cover remix of “Umbrella” from Rihanna, but obviously with different elements. The free team is yet again the clown routine that they have been swimming since 2015 (cue: *it’s been 84 years*).
It’s obvious that the Mexicans master both of these choreographies, so the routines are clean, sharp and well-executed, which put them above their direct competitors France and Greece. They did however ditch their Mamma Mia combo to swim their new free combination routine to the music of the movie ‘Coco’. For a first time out, the routine was really well executed and is just delightful to watch, albeit the choreography wasn’t very risky. All in all, the Mexicans should have no trouble dominating their big competition of the year in a few weeks.
France had a very successful showing in Syros, winning medals in every event it entered. Its goal was to measure up against the home team and to clearly beat it. The French’s technical team earned its lowest score of the season despite a decent swim, and ended only 0.5135 points behind Greece. The free team had a much better swim and was far more successful as it scored 85.3000 to Greece’s 84.8667, which led to an outpour of happy tears from the swimmers.
The competition between the two duets is as tight as ever. The Tremble twins did manage to finish above the pair of Maureen Jenkins and Eve Planeix in both events, but only by 0.3046 in tech and 0.5334 in free. Since this was the last meet for the French team before the European Championships, it will be interesting to see what unfolds now regarding the selection for that competition as only one duet can enter in each event. The two have been going back and forth all season, so who will get picked?
Finally in solo, Jenkins and Planeix each managed a silver medal in technical and free solo, respectively. Planeix is only 0.3333 behind Diosdado, an encouraging result for the future. The French earned their only gold medal in the highlight event, where Greece decided to scratch at the last minute and the only other competitor for the world series circuit was Uzbekistan.
It was a first time out for the Greek team as well, which managed to do fairly well with new routines and what is mostly its junior team. Its technical routine was set to hip hop/dance music, while its free team appeared to revolve around the theme of Africa. In the absence of Platanioti, the junior swimmers were the sole representatives of the nation in the solo and duet events. Anna-Maria Taxopoulou managed two bronze in solo, and earned two more in the duet with Georgia Vasilopoulou thanks to the one-per-country rule which did not allow France’s Jenkins and Planeix to medal. With the exception of Evangelia Papazoglou, this entire Greek team will compete at the Jr. European Championships in Finland at the end of the month.
While scores were a bit off for everybody on the first few events, the most outrageous discrepancy happened for Bill May‘s ‘Wolf’ free solo. The execution scores ranged from 7.4 to 9.2, while the artistic impression was between 8.3 and 9.6. The judges did not watch the same routine, apparently. Or maybe a few of them got distracted by the dancing mascot. Either way, such ranges should not happen, especially at this level. May did manage to win gold in the club rankings as he represented his club the Santa Clara Aquamaids. Diosdado was the ‘official’ winner of the free solo for the FINA World Series rankings.
The mixed duet competition was also a good one. Maya Gurbanberdieva and Aleksandr Maltsev from Russia won the free duet event very comfortably against the Italians Manila Flamini and Giorgio Minisini with their ‘Sing Sing Sing’ routine. The Russians were not entered in the technical duet, which the Italians won with their ‘A Scream from Lampedusa’ choreography.
Japan was back out in that event for the first time since the Japan Open, and this time with a brand new technical routine. The theme was mermaids, with Atsushi Abe being a sailor who falls under the charm of the mermaid, Yumi Adachi. The routine featured impressive throws and good difficulty, and was overall quite clean for a first time out. These two keep on improving and received their season and career-best score in that event with 86.5930, 1.8165 points behind the reigning world champions. Similarly, Abe and Adachi earned a season and career-best score in their ‘Snake’ free duet with 88.3000, this time 1.2000 behind Italy. The gap is closing, so watch out for this pair ahead of the next world championships as it could very well medal.
Turkey had its mixed duet out once again for the first time since the 2015 FINA World Championships with Gokce Akgun and Eda Tuncay. The two only competed in the free event for a score of 73.8000. Spain‘s mixed pair also made the trip, and earned a bronze in technical despite one of their lowest scores of the year with a 81.4541.
Much like Mexico and Greece, Turkey made its international season debut at this competition and was entered most events. Ukraine sent what could possibly be its solo and duet at the COMEN Cup as the swimmers are born in 2004 and 2005. Anastasiia Soldatenkova and Anna Yefimova still managed an impressive fifth place and a score of 79.7000 in the free duet, while Soldatenkova earned a huge 81.2000 in free solo.
The Czech Republic, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Singapore and Hungary were also in Syros. The Hungarians were without one of their former soloist Luca Renyi, who announced her retirement earlier this week. Most of the squad is now getting ready for the Jr. European Championships. The Czech also had their junior soloist Eliska Hodova compete in Syros, much like Hungary’s Veronka Szako, ahead of that meet. Szabo actually managed to pass her senior teammate Szofi Kiss in that event for the first time.
Article by Christina Marmet