Sync Up: August 15, 2020

Tokyo 2020(NE) Schedule Update

  • The new schedule for the Tokyo Olympics next summer has been released. Here are our days for artistic swimming, with all events starting at 7:30 p.m. local:
    • Monday August 2 – Free Duet Preliminary
    • Tuesday August 3 – Technical Duet
    • Wednesday August 4 – Free Duet Final
    • Friday August 6 – Technical Team
    • Saturday August 7 – Free team

Additions & Retirements

  • The U.S. held a selection event to add three new swimmers to its senior national team. Megumi Field, Anya Melson, and Nikki Dzurko have all been invited to join, and have until August 17 to accept their position. Field, a 15-year-old from La Mirada Aquabelles, has been an up-and-comer in the U-12 and 13-15 categories for the last few years, and already boasts multiple west zones and national titles. Melson is a current member of the junior team. Finally, Dzurko competes for the Ohio State University but was on the junior and senior teams in 2016 and 2017.
  • Across the border, Canada has announced its full-time Olympic training group. In addition to the 12 senior national team members from last season, seven new athletes have been joined. Congratulations to Rosalie Boissonneault, Sydney Carroll, Scarlett Finn, Mikaelle Gauthier, Raphaelle Plante, Kiara Quieti and Emma Spott!
  • Spain‘s Elena Melian has retired, and will return to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands to continue her studies. In a letter addressed to the federation, she explained that she has realized her chances of making the Olympic team are decreasing and that it is time for her move on. We wish her the best in the future!
  • In Australia, 2016 Olympian Amber-Rose Stackpole has also announced her departure from the sport. This was quite surprising as Stackpole had already been named to the Tokyo Olympic team and duet. In a local press article, she said she could no longer put the rest of her life on hold. She also stated she had been considering retirement for several weeks already, and had originally planned to retire this summer after Tokyo. We also wish her the best in her next endeavor!

Coaching Announcement

  • Valeriya Aprielieva has been named assistant coach of the Israeli national team. Aprieliva competed for Ukraine up until last year. She became a world champion in 2019 in the highlight event, as well as a bronze medalist in the free combination event in Gwangju. She is a four-time world medalist and two-time European medalist.

Kazakhstani Athletes Speaking Up (Again)

  • Current and former national team members and staff have spoken up again against coaches Zhanna Demchenko and Aliya Karimova . This includes statements from current athletes Aigerim Issayeva and Jennifer Russanova, mixed duet coach Ainur Kerey, former national team swimmer Yana Degtyareva (TW: eating disorder, suicide), and 13-15 national team coach Oksana Moskicheva. They allege psychological pressure, bullying, as well as corruption and favoritism from the senior coaching staff that have been ongoing for years.
  • Alexandra and Yekaterina Nemich, 2016 Olympians and current Olympic duet for 2021, dismissed the allegations via their Instagram accounts. They disagreed with the claims, and asked for the attacks on the national team and staff to stop.
  • This is not the first scandal to erupt in Kazakhstan. In early 2017, a group of national team athletes published an open letter on Facebook called “The Whole Truth About Kazakhstani Sports.” The swimmers claimed that the coaching staff (Demchenko, Karimova and Nailya Baymurzina) was dividing the team and that the athletes were not receiving their salaries and allowances. Later that year, Demchenko was ultimately convicted of fiscal fraud and sentenced to seven years probation, later reduced to three and half years. She was found guilty of misappropriation and embezzlement of funds, and of forgery of official documents. The federation however allowed her to continue coaching.

From Brazil to Portugal, and Back

  • As discussed in the June 15th Sync Up and due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Brazilian Olympic Committee sent a first wave of athletes to Rio Maior in Portugal. This “bubble training camp” involved more than 100 Brazilians. All had to test negative for the coronavirus before leaving home. Artistic swimmers and Olympic hopefuls in the duet Luisa Borges, Laura Miccuci and Maria Bruno were back in the pool there for the last few weeks, with coach Twila Cremona. Over the last few days, the Olympic training center back in Rio de Janeiro has reopened. The four have now returned to Brazil to resume training at their home pool in the Maria Lenk Aquatics Center.

Le Rêve Goes Dark

  • Wynn Las Vegas announced it is shutting down the aquatic show “Le Rêve” permanently due to the pandemic, and after more than 6,000 shows over the last 15 years. Le Rêve-The Dream was created by Franco Dragone back in 2005, and won multiple awards for its production. It remained one of Las Vegas’ most popular shows on the Strip. It featured dozens of artistic swimmers and former national team members as well as gymnasts, acrobats and divers from all around the world. A heartbreaking decision for all involved.

Black Is King

  • THE Beyoncé featured artistic swimming in her film Black Is King. Athletes from Jamaica and southern California as well as performers from Aqualillies received the call to appear in the iconic video. More on that story soon.

Got Skills? (Milk?)

  • Aleksandr Maltsev from Russia shows off his high Barracuda front split, followed by a beautiful spin.
  • Inspired by Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky, the U.S artistic swimming team took on the “Got Milk” challenge, with Anita Alvarez balancing a glass of milk on her head during a lift. Bill May also posted his own version, performing a gorgeous continuous spin followed by a double ballet leg, all while holding the glass with his feet.
  • In Russia, Svetlana Romashina, Svetlana Kolesnichenko and Varvara Subbotina also had their own fun with it, balancing bottles on their heads in ballet legs, split transitions, or eggbeater.

Baby News

  • Spain’s Ona Carbonell has given birth to a healthy baby boy named Kai. Congratulations!
Article by Christina Marmet

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