Artistic Swimming World Cup Concludes with Japanese, Spanish, and Ukrainian Triumphs

 

The final day of the Artistic Swimming World Cup in Markham, Canada, saw impressive performances from teams representing Japan, Spain, and Ukraine.

In the highly anticipated Duet Free final, Japan's Tomoka Sato and Moe Higa secured the gold medal with a combined score of 253.7730. This marked a significant improvement over Higa's previous duet pairing with Mashiro Tasunaga, who finished second and fourth in the respective events at the Paris World Cup last month. Selectors had revised the line-up, bringing in Sato, the previous duet reserve, to help bolster the team's performance in more challenging routines.

"We started as a pair two weeks ago so it's very new, but we've made a good start and we're very happy," Moe Higa said.

Joining the Japanese duet on the podium were Canada's Jacqueline Simoneau and Audrey Lamothe (246.5501), with Maryna and Vladyslava Aleksiiva of Ukraine (242.1772) taking bronze. The Aleksiiva sisters' medal-winning performance should ensure their nomination to represent Ukraine at the Paris 2024 Olympics, especially considering their rivals Daria Moshynska and Anastasiia Shmonina finished 31.825 points lower.

Simoneau, the most decorated athlete of the competition with six medals (five silver), delighted the home crowd with her impressive displays across solo, duet, and team events. "I think we've had far from perfect swims this weekend and I can almost guarantee you're going to see a completely different (Duet Free) routine in Paris," she said.

In the Mixed Duet events, Spain's Dennis Gonzalez Boneu and Emma Garcia showcased their skill, winning the Mixed Duet Free title with a combined score of 200.3854. Gonzalez Boneu, who had not competed since the Doha 2024 World Championships due to a knee injury, made a triumphant return.

"We tried to do all the difficulty in this routine because it's a very hard routine, so we swam with our heart and also our head," said Gonzalez Boneu.

The competition also featured impressive performances in the Acrobatic events, where Ukraine's youthful squad, led by double world champion Anhelina Ovchynnikova, secured victory with a combined total of 244.4834.

"We were so happy because we did a lot of work; our coach said we had to put on a show, and I think we did," said Yelyzaveta Lymar.

With the World Cup concluded, many of the European athletes will now head to the continental championships in Belgrade, Serbia, later this month, before the top-ranked artistic swimmers reconvene for the Super Final in Budapest, Hungary, from July 5-7. The artistic swimming competition at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games is scheduled to take place from August 5-11.

Photo credit: Antoine Saito/Artistic Swimming Canada/World Aquatics