The competition season has slowed down, which means Sync Up is back! That said, we still do have a few upcoming major meets. Indeed, the 2023 season isn’t over for nations in Asia and the Americas, that will vie for spots to the Paris Olympics in the coming weeks. But in the meantime, here are some of the news from the last summer months.
World Aquatics Allows Russian and Belarusian Athletes Back… Sort Of.
World Aquatics has ruled to allow athletes from Russia and Belarus to participate in international competitions again as “Individual Neutral Athletes” under strict eligibility criteria.
The press release states that “Individual Neutral Athletes will only be permitted to compete in events where a time or result is established by the performances of a single athlete. A maximum of one Individual Neutral Athlete from Russia and one from Belarus per event will be allowed to compete at World Aquatics competitions.”
Under these conditions, the two nations can only participate in the solo events at World Aquatics artistic swimming competitions. This also means that Russia and Belarus will not be able to enter in the duet, mixed duet or team events at the Doha World Championships which is the final Olympic qualifier for 2024.
The criteria central to World Aquatics Bureau’s decision can be found on the independent Aquatics Integrity Unit website here. This decision falls in line with the IOC’s recommendations from March 2023.
The return of North Korea
North Korea has registered artistic swimmers to the upcoming Asian Games. That event serves as an Olympic qualifier for the Asian continent, where the top team and its duet, as well as the best duet not yet qualified, will punch their tickets to Paris.
The North Korean artistic swimming team hasn’t competed since the 2018 Asian Games. Naturally, the nation skipped over the 2019 World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju, South Korea. Then, North Korea closed its already tight borders in early 2020, and essentially has only started to slightly “reopen” them, with taekwondo athletes allowed to travel to Kazakhstan for a competition last month. The nation also did forgot the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, citing concerns about the pandemic, so the IOC subsequently banned it from the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
- Javier Ruisanchez has announced his retirement from the sport via a video on Instagram. Representing Puerto Rico, Ruisanchez has competed internationally since 2021, notably in the mixed duet and more recently in the men’s solo. In 2023, he won bronze in free mixed duet at the Central American and Caribbean Games alongside Nicolle Torrens. At the Fukuoka World Championships in July, he placed eighth in free solo, ninth in technical solo, 13th in technical mixed duet and 14th in free mixed duet.
- Camille Bravard of France is also hanging up her suit. Bravard had been part of the senior national team since 2018. She is a two-time European bronze medalist, and also competed at the 2019 and 2022 World Championships.
From Mexico to Canada
Canada Artistic Swimming announced that three additional athletes have joined the senior national team training squad: Georgia Hock, Emma McIlwain and Ximena Ortiz.
The most notable one is the latter, as Ortiz was a junior national team member for Mexico in 2021 and 2022. She last competed for the country at the 2022 World Junior Championships in the solo and mixed duet events. She has been training in Montreal since, and recently won two silver medals in solo at the Canadian Junior National Championships.
Emma McIlwain is the junior Canadian national champion in technical solo, while Georgia Hock is the champion in the free solo. Both also won the technical and free duet national titles together.
Road to Santiago
- The USA has named the nine athletes who will compete at the Pan American Games. In alphabetical order: Anita Alvarez, Jaime Czarkowski, Megumi Field, Audrey Kwon, Calista Liu, Jacklyn Luu, Bill May, Daniella Ramirez, and Ruby Remati.
- Aruba‘s duet of Kyra Hoevertsz and Mikayla Morales is working with a new coach, Tania Rudkovska. Rudkovaska was previously with Switzerland’s duet in 2022 and 2023. Ilaria Brandimarte, who coached the Aruban duet until the World Championships this season, had to return home to Italy for personal reasons.
- Choreographer and coach Olga Pylypchuk recently traveled to Mexico to work with the national team.
Baby on the way
- Italian national team member Marta Murru is expecting her first child. Murru was part of Italy’s junior squad from 2016 to 2018, and moved to the senior team in 2018. She is a three-time World and European medalist. She last competed at the 2022 European Championships, where she won three silver medals in the team events.
- The 2024 Competition Calendar is online. As always, it will get filled in as more national and international schedules are finalized and announced.
- LEN recently announced the European Youth Championships will be held from May 22-26 in Athens, Greece, while the European Junior Championships will be in Malta from June 12-16. The dates and locations of the European Championships still remains to be determined.
- What’s next? The Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, from October 6-8. As mentioned above, it serves as an Olympic qualifying event for artistic swimming.
ARTICLE BY CHRISTINA MARMET
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