14 nations will take part in the mixed duet events at these World Championships, a new high. Brazil, Cuba, China, Colombia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Puerto Rico, Slovakia, Spain, Thailand and the U.S. are entered in both technical and free events. Mexico will only swim in the technical mixed duet, while South Africa only in the free.
LAST TIME OUT
In 2019, nine pairs competed in the technical event and 11 in free. Russia’s Maya Gurbanberdieva and Aleksandr Maltsev won both events. Giorgio Minisini and Manila Flamini from Italy earned both silvers. Japan’s Abe Atsushi and Adachi Yumi won both bronze medals.
The sole returning medalist in Budapest is Giorgio Minisini. Russia has been banned by FINA from participating in the competition. Japan will be represented by a new and younger mixed duet.
THIS YEAR’S FIELD
Overall, this mixed duet field consists of many fresh faces and new pairs ready to make their mark on this event.
A handful of mixed duets have already performed in the World Series this season, like Colombia and Spain, who are also the sole returning duets from 2019.
Jennifer Cerquera and Gustavo Sanchez from Colombia have been together since 2018 and will benefit from their years of experience on the international stage. They are the reigning South American champions and competed in two World Series this season. Don’t miss their opening lifts in both routines where Sanchez flies high in the air. And a fun trivia fact: Cerquera is the sole athlete to have swum in all 10 artistic swimming events on the senior international stage throughout her career.
Spain‘s Emma Garcia and Pau Ribes head into their second World Championships together. Both of their choreographies are tried and tested through the World Series circuit this year, which they ultimately won for this event. They will perform the same routines that earned them silver at the European Championships in 2021: “Witch Hunter” in tech and “Cats” in free. Undoubtedly, they hope their tremendous competitive experience and improvements will lead them to the World podium for the first time.
However, it will likely be a thrilling fight as the new Japanese pair has already managed to upset them earlier this season in the technical event. Siblings Sato Yotaro and Sato Tomoka, 17 and 20 years old respectively, will represent Japan. Neither are strangers to the World stage. Yotaro was in Japan’s mixed duet at the 2019 World Youth Championships, and won bronze. Tomoka won two bronze medals in team and free combination at the 2018 FINA World Junior Championships. Both have great potential together and could certainly make a run at the podium this year.
Reigning Youth World Champions Eduard Kim and Zhaklin Yakimova from Kazakhstan will make their senior World Championships debuts in Budapest. The 16 and 17-year-old have been swimming together for four years already. They have competed sporadically in the World Series this season and last. Their free duet choreography set to Aladdin’s OST is particularly entertaining, and their first free lift is a must-watch.
Similarly, the U.S. pair of Claudia Coletti and Kenneth Gaudet will make its Worlds debuts in Budapest. Gaudet is the junior Pan American champion in the event; a meet that was also his first-ever international appearance. Both have accumulated experience on the senior stage this season, again competing in multiple World Series alongside the American team.
Both of their routines have been done by coach Anna Voloshyna. The free mixed duet, using anime and Japanese music composed by Revo, is particularly dynamic and showcases incredible lifts.
Javier Ruisanchez and Nicolle Torrens will represent Puerto Rico in the mixed for the first time at the World Championships. Ruisanchez comes from the swimming world, and only started artistic swimming a year ago. Like all pairs above, the two competed through the World Series this season and are ready to continue showing improvement.
Thailand’s Kantinan Adisaisiributr and Voranan Toomchay also return to the mixed duet field after competing in the French Open last April. Abisaisiributr is only 15 and got going in artistic swimming two years ago.
Brazil, China, Cuba, Italy, Mexico, Slovakia and South Africa will make their season debuts in Budapest.
The clear favorites for the World titles this year are Italy’s Giorgio Minisini and Lucrezia Ruggiero. Minisini is a 2017 World champion, and a multiple World and European medalist. Despite training together since the fall of 2019, the two haven’t actually competed much internationally yet.
A Covid-19 outbreak within the Italian team forced them to miss the European Championships last year, and obviously the pandemic itself took away most competitions in 2020. They only competed in the free mixed at the 2021 World Series Super Final, where they showed their routine set to “Beggin” by Måneskin. They will perform this routine again in Budapest, and will unveil a new technical program using Verdi’s Requiem. Both choreographies are from Russian Olympic champion Anastasia Ermakova.
China will also undoubtedly be in the race for the podium and for what could be the nation’s first medals in the mixed duet. These World Championships will already be the third ones for Shi Haoyu. He was only just 15 when he made his international debut in 2017 and has continuously improved ever since. In Budapest, he will be back with Zhang Yiyao, who was his duet partner at the 2018 FINA World Junior Championships.
Fabiano Ferreira and Gabriela Regly will represent Brazil, and it will be their first international competition together. Although with a different duet partner, Ferreira earned bronze in the event at the South American Championships. Regly previously competed in the 2019 World Championships alongside the team. This is their first season and meet together, as both swim for different clubs domestically.
Siblings Jozef Solymosy and Silvia Solymosyova will swim for Slovakia. While these will be their first World Championships together, the two have been around on the international stage for six years already.
Indeed, they used to perform as pre-swimmers in major competitions like the 2017 FINA World Championships, the 2018 FINA Junior World Championships, and the 2019 European Junior Championships. They made their “official” debuts in competition last year at the European Championships, as both were finally eligible for the same age group.
Cuba, Mexico and South Africa will be represented in the mixed duet on the international stage for the first time. Cuba’s Andy Manuel Avila Gonzalez finished fifth in mixed duet at the junior Pan American Championships last December.
Joel Benavides Lepe and Trinidad Meza Garcia will only compete in the technical event for Mexico. Rodriguez last competed internationally at the 2018 FINA World Junior Championships in the team events
Laura Strugnell, who represented South Africa in duet at the Tokyo Games, returns to the World stage for this new challenge. Her partner Ayrton Sweeney raced in the swimming events at the 2017 FINA World Championships, and only recently took up artistic swimming. The two will only compete in the free event here.
ARTICLE BY CHRISTINA MARMET
Cover photo: Deepbluemedia
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