FINA held its annual World Aquatics Gala at the conclusion of the FINA World 25m Swimming Championships in Hangzhou, China, on December 16, and recognized the top athletes in each aquatics event. For synchro, Ukraine’s Yelyzaveta Yakhno was awarded the 2018 FINA Best Female Artistic Swimmer title, while the Italian Giorgio Minisini earned the FINA Best Male Artistic Swimmer award once more.
Yelyzaveta Yakhno‘s was undoubtedly Ukraine’s Most Valuable Player this past season. She competed in all eight events consistently throughout the year – technical solo, free solo, technical duet, free duet, technical team, free team, free combination and highlight. On the world series circuit, she won or tied for the overall titles in the solo, duet, and team categories, after competing at the French Open, Budapest Open, Canadian Open and Synchro America Open.
“It’s always very nice and rewarding to receive this prize, but on top of the stage I always feel a bit embarrassed,” said Yakhno in an interview for FINA. “This will certainly give me additional motivation for my career, and my coaches are deeply convinced that in the years to come the level of Ukraine will significantly rise.”
The European Championships’ results are not taken into account here as it’s a LEN competition and a FINA award, but Yakhno’s results were impressive and important to note. She competed in seven events and earned a medal in each, including gold in free combination. She also won five silvers and one bronze.
Giorgio Minisini had already earned the honor in 2017, although he was then tied with Aleksandr Maltsev. In 2018, Minisini won the FINA World Series (ASWS) title in the mixed duet events with duet partner Manila Flamini. The two competed in four ASWS meets: the French Open, Japan Open, Synchro America Open and the Hellas Beetles Cup. Minisini won two gold medals in Japan and Greece, and two more silvers in France and the U.S. To cap off their season, the two won two silver medals at the European Championships.
“Concerning my award, it is a recognition for all the effort we put into our training and competition”, said Minisini in an interview for FINA. “The World Series is a demanding competition, where we need to travel a lot in a short period of time. But we need to do this if we want one day to reach the Olympic status. On my plans for Gwangju 2019, we are now working a bit differently than for Budapest 2017. We have a new choreography, with more speed and more connection between the two swimmers, which is one of the main goals of FINA for the evolution of the mixed duet.”