Surrounded by Olympic vibes, music and sporting mastery were on display in the Aquatic Center of the Athens Olympic Sports Complex “Spyros Louis” for the opening night of the three-day FINA Artistic Swimming Super Finals 2022.
Athletes from 23 countries representing three continents comprise the field for the capstone of the four-leg FINA Artistic Swimming World Series that is taking place in an indoor aquatic venue used for the Athens 2004 Olympics.
With a Super Final event purse of USD 310,000, prize money will be awarded to the top-six finishers in five categories: Female Solo, Male Solo, Duet, Mixed Duet, and Team events.
With the pandemic limiting the number of global, continental and national events in recent years, all countries could participate in the 2022 edition of the Super Finals as teams and soloists look to perfect their routines one last time before next month’s FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
The prize money associated with the ASWS will be awarded to the Top 6 ranked National Federations in five categories, the Female Solo, Male Solo, Duet, Mixed Duet, and Team events at the end of the Super Finals this weekend.
Female Technical Solo
The competition got underway with one of the sport’s highlights as twelve athletes competed for the podium in the Female Technical Solo. After winning the gold medal during the virtual leg hosted by Australia earlier this month, Austria’s Vasiliki Alexandri performed her own choreography to Live Life for the Moment and scored 86.9450 to bring home another gold medal.
“It’s nice to be back in this swimming pool after ten years,” Alexandri said on the pool deck after standing atop the podium. “I used to train in this swimming pool and this was a very good test for the FINA World Championships. It was nice to win this competition!”
Making her first appearance this 2022 ASWS season and performing her brand-new routine “I Can’t Breathe” USA’s Anita Alvarez scored 84.6848 points to claim the second spot on the podium. Swum to Suspirium by Thom Yorke, Alvarez’s routine was inspired by George Floyd, a victim of social injustice.
“It’s been a great meet so far. It’s my first time in Athens and I’ve been loving the city, loving being in this pool,” Alvarez said. “Competing in his amazing arena has been awesome and competing for the first time this season for me and making it onto the podium.”
Keeping with the theme of picking up one’s first personal first medal for the 2022 season, Germany’s Marlene Bojer won bronze. Bojer rounded out the podium by scoring 80.0743 for her very powerful redemption of Destiny’s Child’s I’m a Survivor.
“I’m pretty happy that I’m on the podium because it’s been a tough season for me and also the first medal for me this year,” Bojer said.
Male Technical Solo
The Male Technical Solo followed next, with Spain’s Fernando Diaz del Rio Soto continuing to outperform the competition with his performance of “Never Stop Dreaming” with Aerosmith’s Dream On providing the routine’s soundtrack. Diaz del Rio Soto won gold with his 77.9618 point performance to add to the two gold and one silver from the three previous legs of the 2022 Artistic Swimming World Series.
Diaz Del Rio Soto had to shake off some nerves before his gold medal-winning routine.
“It’s an honour to win. It’s very cool. When I was in the water, I felt very good. Before, I was super nervous, but everything went pretty okay,” Diaz Del Rio Soto said. “This is a good steppingstone for the European Championships and the FINA World Championships.”
From the first leg, virtually hosted by Canada and USA, this year’s Artistic Swimming World Series has been marked by new faces, debutantes and junior athletes competing at the senior level for the first time. Count Kenneth Gaudet among this group as the American debuted a brand-new choreography swum to music by his favourite pop star Brendon Urie. With a score of 74.8963, Gauden claimed his first medal as a soloist.
Eduard Kim, representing Kazakhstan for the first time in the 2022 ASWS season, performed beautifully to the song Arcade by the 2019 Eurovision Song Festival winner Duncan Laurence. Kim’s “Love Story” routine earned him 74.8478 points for the bronze medal.
Opening night in the Greek capital concluded with the Technical Team routine. The eight athletes representing the USA performed their tribute to Michael Jackson's iconic number Smooth Criminal. Incorporating creative choreography, the singer’s many moves and mannerism were reflected throughout the routine. The USA captured the audience’s attention from start to finish as they scored 86.1525 to claim their third gold medal in a row in this event.
“Our performance was Smooth Criminal and I feel we really, really embodied Michael Jackson this time,” Team USA’s Daniella Ramirez said. “It was really fun to get into character. We really put our all out there.”
The stoke level was high among the American contingent with Jaime Czarkowski remarking:
“We were really calm and collected and swam as a team. I think we achieved most of our goals and really enjoyed performing for the crowd.”
Israel won the silver medal with 83.4367 points. It was not difficult to guess the theme of their routine which was swum to the song Cuba by Robert Abigail. The Israelian athletes had the audience on the edge of their seat while they turned the Aquatic Center in Athens into a Latin dance club.
Kazakhstan debuted their new routine, “The Call of Nature” on music by Olena Uutai and scored 79.2041 to claim the bronze medal. The choreography used the music beautifully and the team was able to work in their elements and patterns using the very distinctive beats and rhythms of the music to their advantage.
Watch It One More Time
What’s Coming Up Next
Day two of the 2022 ASWS Super Finals features the Female and Male Free Solo, the Technical Duet and Mixed Duet, and the Free Team events.