Ukraine made 2/2 on the opening day of the FINA Artistic Swimming World Series Budapest Open. They claimed the title in the duet technical routine and in the free combination in the Duna Arena.

The first title went to Ukraine here in Budapest and that might even make the Hungarian capital one of the favourite cities of Anastasiya Savchuk and Yelizaveta Yakhno who had already been part of the free combination team last year which claimed a historical silver at the FINA World Championships. Now gold was the reward of the Ukrainian duet in the technical programme. It was a clean win for them as they were the only team receiving 90+ points from the judges.


Photos: Jozsef Szaka

“We are happy to be back here in Budapest – said Savchuk after their routine. – In fact, it was an exciting morning for all of us as we performed our new routine for the first time but I think it was all good.”

Italy’s Linda Cerruti and and Constanza Ferro, leaders of the overall, came second, finishing ahead of Austria’s twins, Anna-Maria and Eirini Alexandri. In fact, it was a battle of twins and Ukraine’s 16 year-old sisters Marina and Vladyslava Aleksiyiva deserved better scores but the rules only consider one duet per nation in the World Series ranks so the bronze landed in the Austrians’ necks.

Savchuk and Yakno: double joy on Friday

In the afternoon the free combination event rocked the magnificent Duna Arena, music like the Queen’s ‘Don’t stop me now’ even made the spectators dancing. As it was expected, the battle for the gold went down to the duel of Spain and Ukraine. Both teams came up with a brilliant performance, though the Ukrainians – silver medallists in this event at the 2017 Worlds – did the best job in the pool. Just as in the first leg in Paris, they won with a comfortable margin, earning even more points this time than in March (92.7000 to 92.1000). Savchuk and Yakno were swimming again so they bagged two golds apiece on Friday.

Ukraine was a class apart

The Spaniards also broke the 90-point barrier but only just. Still, they were satisfied, according to their most experienced swimmer Paula Ramirez (who forms a duet the nation’s top swimmer Ona Carbonell since last year). “It was a good performance after all. I think we can be really proud of what we showed today. The music is the same as last year but we changed some elements in the routine and we have a couple of new swimmers so this occasion was perfect to test where we are now. We have to go step by step in order to achieve our goals.”

Israel finished third, but the bronze medal didn’t satisfy fully their legendary coach Anna Tarres. Mrs Tarres, who shaped Spain’s greatness in the late 90s and in the new millennium, gathered her girls on the pool-deck right after the victory ceremony and started to re-assess their performance – and some 20 minutes later all the competitors were back to the competition pool for an extra one-hour practice session...

FINA Artistic Swimming World Series Budapest Open – Leg 5

Day 1

Duet Technical

1. Anastasia Savchuk, Yelizaveta Yakhno (UKR) 90.3170

2. Linda Cerrutti, Constanza Ferro (ITA) 88.0272

3. Anna-Maria Alexandri, Eirini Alexandri (AUT) 85.2773

Free Combination

1. Ukraine 92.7000

2. Spain 90.2000

3. Israel 80.5333