INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, August 13. THE energy and the enthusiasm of FINA's youngest athletes was evident and also contagious during the preliminaries of the Routine Free Combination at "The Nat" on the campus of IUPUI in Indianapolis. The second day of competition of the 12th FINA / eSYNCHRO World Junior Synchronised Swimming Championships yielded few surprises in the evening's Team Combination Event or the morning's preliminary solo stage.
Athletes from RUSSIA, UKRAINE, CHINA and CANADA found themselves in the top three spots in the solo and team combination events after the preliminary rounds. The solo requires a swimmer to synchronize a routine to music. The free combination routine is considered a fan-favorite and incorporates a variety of different routines into one four and a half minute program. Ten athletes from each nation swam a program set to the music that gave their performances a unique signature reflecting their athleticism and artistry.
Fourteen nations from the continents of the Americas, Asia and Europe entertained the audience and the ever observant judges with some of the most creative performances in the history of the FINA Junior World Championships.
The biennial event is open to Junior National Teams world-wide and marks the 12th time the competition has been held. The internationally-sanctioned competition features the team and duet events, which are also Olympic disciplines.
In the TEAM COMBINATION the Russian swimmers were the second team to enter the water but immediately took their familiar standing at the top of the scoreboard with a 91.460 point score. The defending champions in this event wondered if any of the 12 remaining teams might approach their scores but they remained the only team to score higher than 90 points. Naraliya MENDYGALIEVA, the Russian team's head coach said "our team responded to the music and swam well in the event where the top six teams were very competitive. I saw some mistakes in our program, but this is normal for coaches to see these small mistakes. We will work to improve them so these mistakes are not evident to the judges."
The team from UKRAINE, the 10th team to enter the water waited anxiously during a brief technical delay in the posting of their scores. This was only a momentary delay in the celebration of their ascension to a second place ranking with a score of 89.450. Head coach Olesia ZAITSEVA spoke of her team's performance, "It was a very good performance…great in fact….almost perfect! The girls believe that they can be the #1 team in this tournament. The girls have trained together for one year and they are capable of improvement."
The team from CHINA swam in the 12th position and their performance merited the third highest ranking in the preliminaries. "it was a very good performance from our girls, much better than what I have seen in training" said Yuan ZHAO, the head coach of the Chinese athletes. "I didn't see any mistakes in today's performance".
TEAM COMBINATION PRELIMINARY RESULTS (14 Entries Total)
1. Russia 91.460; 2. Ukraine 89.450; 3. China 89.220; 4. Canada 89.110; 5. Spain 86.210; 6. Japan 86.060; 7. United States 85.450; 8. Italy 85.270; 9. Greece 84.610; 10. Switzerland 80.170; 11. Brazil 78.390; 12. Colombia 75.380; 13. Germany 74.390; 14. Finland 70.470
In the morning's solo preliminary results, Vlada CHIGIREVA of RUSSIA was the top swimmer posting a score of 91.42. CHIGIREVA studied ballet before joining her teammates in the pool and she is the European Junior Champion. Her coach said "It was not a strong performance, she can swim much better and I am sure she will in the finals."
Lilita ANANSAOVA of UKRAINE also bettered the 90 point threshold with her routine score of 90.54. The 18 year old ANANSAOVA was third in the European Championships, placing behind athletes who are 25 and 26 years of age with far greater experience in the sport. CANADA's Emilia KOPCHIK is third ranked with 88.28 points.
SOLO PRELIMINARY RESULTS (23 Entries Total)
1. Russia 91.420; 2. Ukraine 90.540; 3. Canada 88.280; 4. Spain 87.660; 5. China 87.160; 6. Italy 86.930; 7. Japan 86.720; 8. United States 85.930; 9. Greece 85.330; 10. France 84.250; 11-Tie Switzerland 79.800; 11-Tie Belarus 79.800; 13. Israel 78.470; 14. Czech Republic 78.310; 15. Mexico 77.720; 16. Uzbekistan 77.160; 17. Colombia 76.880; 18. Brazil 78.710; 19. Slovakia 75.980; 20. Germany 75.900; 21. Finland 72.190; 22. Argentina 69.910; 23. Singapore 69.670
The world's most elite junior synchronized swimmers finished out the preliminary competition with the solo and combination events and will compete in the figure competition on Friday, while finals will take place on Saturday and Sunday.
Preliminary scores (for the solo, duet and team events) will be combined with Friday's figure scores to determine the 12 finalists. The world junior champions in both the solo and combo events will be crowned Sunday at the conclusion of finals.
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