In the day’s only competition event, Team Highlight, Kazakhstan presented their “Night on Bald mountain” to the music of Modest Musorgsky.  Inspired by Russian literary works and a legend, Mussorgsky composed a "musical picture", St. John's Eve on Bald Mountain on the theme of a Witches' Sabbath occurring on St. John's Eve.  7 competitors in the squad were young, but 17, and clearly were nervous on their international first-night. Although, the routine was new, and collaboration in the water definitely fresh, the Asian beauties awarded much applause of the Kazan’s public coming along rather good marks of the judging panel: 83.4333 points overall including 24.9000 on the execution, 33.3333 -  artistic impression.

“We are happy about the swim, - said Ekaterina Simonova of Kazakhstan. – We love this acrobatic program. It was a fun to stage it and to train in. Of course, what we did is not our maximum.  We need to work even harder to improve my technical merit, and I am sure, that my coaches will help me to gain a good progress”.

“Kazakhstan did a good job, - noted Gana Maximova, famous coach of the Russian mixed duet Maltsev/Gurbanberdyeva, daughter of a merited Soviet coach Maria Maximova. – It was an interesting program, rather high level of acrobatics, rather interesting choice of music. It definitely needs brushing, but as far as I know, the routine is but 2 weeks old, so it was a very good swim in given circumstances”.


A cherry on the cake, a traditional Gala brought together in Kazan some 30 competitors. Artistic swimmers from 3 countries performed various routines to their favorite music, and spectators set their emotional marks through their applause.

Russia as a host had the largest share in the session. Daria Kirsanova produced a highly spectacular full-dressed version of her Solo Free program. Russian junior team were very emotional with their street dances to “Life my life” taken from the “Step on” movie. Prominent Aleksandr Maltsev performed a dynamic male solo routine. The Mixed duet of Tatarstan heat up the atmosphere on the stands to the rock-n-roll rhythms.  

“The 3-days competitions are over, somebody won, somebody lost. Gala works well in both cases: either to share your winning joy or to show you can do much better than you ranked. What is more about that – the public is absolutely fantastic", - commented Russian coach Natalia Mendygalieva.

For the Serbian team, it was definitely a chance to share their happiness as they registered in Kazan 1 silver and 2 bronze medals.

“Gala is amazing, - said Serbian coach Svetlana Kontic. – Everyone loves it, and it is important to show the spectacular side of our sport. Serbian team has done the Gala program on a short notice, because we were not sure, we would have a chance to show it in  Kazan. The theme which runs through our Gala routine is an old underground movie by Serbian director Emir Kusturica. We are performing as a trio – Sofija Dzipkovic, Jelena Kontic and Nevena Dimitrijevic, assisted by the team of Tatarstan. They had a training camp in Serbia last year, since then we have good collaboration and friendship ties”.

According to Kazakhstan’s coach Ilya Kotov, Gala works as a carrot in the carrot-and-whip training process.

“My team is usually presented in the Gala by young athletes. For them it is very important to have fun. Gala is usually about fun, and at the same time it gives room for experiments. You can try something new, maybe something more difficult, than you have been doing in their routines before”.

“This is the first time in 2021 we had the pleasure to stage Gala in front of the public, - concluded Aleksandr Maltsev of Russia. - We missed that badly indeed! In artistic swimming we train very hard and not just for ourselves. Emotions of spectators is the pure energy, which drives us forward. I swam today both solo and mixed duet. Hopefully, next year here in Kazan I will be able to swim male solo in the competition program as well. I am very grateful to FINA for this fantastic opportunity for male swimmers to show their opportunities in this challenging event”.

Overall recap

3 competition days of the of the 2021 FINA Artistic Swimming World Series in Kazan were a success, collecting over 70 athletes of 8 countries, which played out 9 sets of medals. The Perennial favorite Russia swept all but one gold on offer in the events they competed together with 1 silver – in Women Duet Free, where they lost to Japan, which will bring home 1 gold and 3 silver coins. The third most successful nation in Kazan was Kazakhstan, pocketing 1 gold and 3 bronze medals. Individually, at least 4 Russian athletes checked in on the top twice, including Aleksandr Maltsev, who expanded his gold collection of the FINA Artistic Swimming World Series-2021 to 5 pieces.   

The next stop of the FINA Artistic Swimming World Series will be Virtual Challenge of Canada, due to take place later this May.

Flash quote. Olga Brusnikina, FINA Technical delegate, FINA Artistic Swimming Technical Committee Honorary Secretary, 1st Vice-President of the Russian Artistic Swimming Federation:

We badly missed competitions during the pandemic year. Competing is crucially important for coaches and athletes. It is twice as more important in the Olympic year. Everyone wants is keen on perfecting their programs, having dress rehearsals and finally getting appreciation of judges. A lot of sports are already returned to the regular competition activity, and we believe, that for artistic swimming, it is necessary to be among them.

In FINA, we pay special tribute to anti-covid security and there is a special guidelines to protect all involved in competitions. Competitors were supposed to pass COVID-19 tests, wear masks almost all the time, live in the security bubble, respect social distancing. We are very grateful to the Organising Committee of the Kazan’s leg for their incredible job done. No new covid cases registered during the competitions, this is the best news!