The second and final virtual competition of the 2021 FINA World Series circuit was broadcasted over the weekend by Canada Artistic Swimming. 16 nations participated, including the Cayman Islands, Egypt, Jamaica and Puerto Rico, who competed in a World Series event for the first time.
Much like in the first virtual competition hosted by the U.S. in January, the women’s duets had the highest participation, with nearly 15 pairs entered. Both events were won by the U.S. duet of Anita Alvarez and Lindi Schroeder, whose routines we had already seen at that U.S. leg.
The senior pair of Marlene Bojer and Michelle Zimmer from Germany won two bronze medals. Their scores and positioning here confirmed their progress already seen at the European Championships two weeks ago, and that they indeed are very much in the race for a spot to Tokyo.
Japan submitted three different duets to this meet. Kobayashi Uta and Wada Ami finished second in the technical event with 83.5193, and only about a point behind the Americans. Both are still junior athletes and presumably preparing for the FINA Junior World Championships, so this showing likely positioned them well for this summer.
A few other notable junior pairs participated here. The new and young pair of Noortje Reijnen and Marloes Steenbeek from the Netherlands actually made a strong impression. Most notably, their technical score of 78.7956 allowed them to wedge themselves in between the older, veteran duets of Liechtenstein and Singapore. They also received 79.2333 in free. Reijnen was the nation’s soloist and Steenbeek was in the duet at the 2019 Youth World Championships, but with a different partner.
The country’s 2019 junior duet of Merel Leuring and Maria Lorenzini also competed here, and received 75.4941 in tech and 78.1333 in free. Both pairs swam the same choreographies, which were formerly used by the de Brouwer twins in the 2018 season.
Overall, it bodes extremely well for the future of the Netherlands to already have two high-level junior duets scoring above 78, even 79, in a senior competition.
Germa Arquero and Gabriela Fernandez, likely Spain‘s junior duet for the summer events, won silver in free with a score of 84.5000. Megumi Field and Anya Melson, both on the U.S. senior squad but also still eligible for junior competitions, swam together for the first time. They solely competed in the tech event, showing the same “Für Elise” choreography as the senior pair, for a score of 77.0309.
Finally, Canada was only entered in the free duet by the pair of Scarlett Finn and Emma Spott. They scored 81.2667, swimming to the senior duet’s former choreography.
Moreover, the senior duets from Australia, Egypt, Singapore and South Korea returned to competition for the first time in essentially two years. The first two are already qualified to the Olympics, but actually unveiled two new pairs in this World Series
For Australia, Emily Rogers joined Amie Thompson in the duet following the retirement of Amber-Rose Stackpole last summer. Both of them are 2016 Olympian and quite experienced on the international stage, but are swimming in the duet for the first time this year. They earned 73.0481 in tech and 75.3333 in free here.
Similarly, Egypt was represented by the new pair of Hanna Hiekal and Laila Mohsen. Both of them actually have some duet experience, albeit separately. Hiekal swam in the free routine at the 2019 FINA World Championships, with a different partner. Likewise, Mohsen competed in the technical duet there, with yet another swimmer.
The two are now together heading into the 2020 Olympic Games. They received 76.0370 for their technical programme, only missing the country’s best score of the quad by 0.03 points. Their “The Beauty of Love” routine was actually pleasantly and surprisingly different from what’s to be expected of a technical program. The classical music and choreography were quite soft and elegant, and grabbed your attention right away.
Conversely, Debbie Soh and Miya Yong from Singapore have been together since 2016. Since the fall of 2020, the two have been coached by Anastasia Goutseva, who previously worked with the Greek and Canadian national teams. Soh and Yong showed here the same choreographies as in 2019, and received 78.0380 in tech and a new career-high score of 79.1333 in free. They are now gearing up for the Olympic Games Qualification Tournament next week.
The South Korean pair of Baek Seoyeon and Lee Riyoung showed tremendous improvement since the 2019 World Championships in their home country. Most notably, their free duet improved by five points since, allowing them to reach past the 80 points for the first time in nearly a decade and to even move ahead of Singapore. In tech, their score increased by two points. These two, alongside the full team, will also try for an Olympic spot at the upcoming qualifiers.
Seven mixed pairs took part in this virtual competition across both events. The freshly crowned 2021 European Champions Maya Gurbanberdieva, Aleksandr Maltsev and Olesya Platonova comfortably swept both podiums. The Russians were followed by Emma Garcia and Pau Ribes from Spain, who grabbed both silver medals. These two pairs have been a staple of the World Series circuit this season, and also just finished 1-2 in Budapest two weeks ago.
Spain actually had two other mixed pairs entered. Leyre Abadia and Fernando Diaz Del Rio Soto only swam in the tech, while its 2019 Youth World silver medalists Maria Bofill and Dennis Gonzalez competed in both. The latter actually reached a new career-high score of 81.3667 in free, with their new “Angels & Demons” choreography.
The new duet from Puerto Rico won a bronze in the technical event, the first-ever medal in a FINA World Series for the island. Javier Ruisanchez and Nicolle Torrens also just competed in-person at the UANA Pan American Championships in Aruba.
Japan entered another one of its up-and-coming mixed duets with Okano Hiyori and Sato Yotaro. They won bronze here in free with a score of 77.7333. Like the younger Spanish pair, these two swam at the 2019 Youth World Championships, and also won bronze back then. Of note, Sato was actually the first-ever male participant at the Japan Open Championships back in 2017, at only 13 years old.
Finally, France‘s junior duet of Madeline Philippe and Quentin Rakotomalala swam their free routine for a final score of 73.7667. These two will also likely represent the nation in the upcoming junior international events.
Six men took part in the solo events (!), with two Spanish, two Russians and two Japanese athletes. Aleksandr Maltsev won the technical solo ahead of Fernando Diaz Del Rio Soto with a 89.8282. In the free solo, Japan‘s Jimma Iwasaki grabbed gold with 81.8667.
Only five countries participated in the team events. Belarus was the only one entered across all four events, and the strategy paid off. The Belarusians, also mostly all still juniors, racked up the points and the medals by winning gold in tech, two silvers in free combination and highlight, and a bronze in free.
The U.S. won the free team event with a significant 89.0667. This score, barely short of the team-best of 89.2333, should be a confidence booster for the Americans now heading into the Olympic Qualification Tournament. Here, they showcased a few changes to the now well-known “Robots” routine, with a brand new opening sequence as well as two more explosive acrobatics.
Spain‘s junior team took part in its second virtual World Series of the season. Its Avatar free team won silver with a big score of 86.5000. In addition, the Spanish won the free combination with their “Life in a Factory” routine and a score of 87.4333.
The host team was only entered in the highlight, which featured a renewed roster including four athletes making their senior debuts. The Canadians performed the same routine as in 2019, and won the event here with a 87.9667.
In solo, Canada’s Jacqueline Simoneau won the free event followed by the U.S.’ Anita Alvarez and Japan’s Hosokawa Asaka. The latter also won the technical solo. Finally, Nyouka Baugh made history by representing Jamaica for the first time in a major international competition.
All results are available here.
ARTICLE BY CHRISTINA MARMET
If you’ve enjoyed our coverage, please consider donating to Inside Synchro! Any amount helps us run the site and travel costs to cover meets during the season.