Austria’s two trips atop the podium with the Alaxandri triplets – Vasiliki (Solo Technical), and Anna-Maria and Eirini (Duet Technical) helped highlight day two of the FINA Artistic Swimming World Series Super Final at the history-laden Athens Olympic Sports Complex “Spyros Louis” Aquatics Center in the Greek capital.
With the 19th FINA World Championships in Budapest slated to start in less than a month, this is the last opportunity for the athletes to perform their choreographies in front of the international judges at a global competition.
On tap for the mid-tournament of the three-day competition were the Female and Male Solo, the Female Technical and Mixed Technical Duet and the Free Team events.
Female Free Solo
Sixteen athletes competed in the first event of the day, the Female Solo. Vasiliki Alexandri doubled the hardware she is bringing home to Austria.
Alexandri swam an expressive choreography aptly titled “Tango,” embodying the sensual and romantic characteristics of the ballroom dance to the tune of an 89.4333 point score for her second gold medal in Athens.
“I am very happy that I managed to win yesterday and today the gold medal in the solo. I am also very happy that I had my highest points ever in my career,” an excited Alexandri stated after her performance.
“Today was a brand-new choreography. I was very excited to show it to the world and everyone. I got very good feedback that I’m very happy about. It’s very special that I got these gold medals here after ten years and I’m very excited for the world championships.”
After making her debut as Spain’s next soloist during the second leg of the 2022 World Series in Paris, Iris Tio Casas improved to 88.2000 points to win silver.
The music arranged for Tio Casas’s “You Have Got the Love” choreography is special as she explained, “My mother is a violinist and does a little bit of my music in my solo.
“It makes me feel very proud and very happy to swim this routine. I’m very satisfied with my silver medal performance in the Solo Free.”
USA’s Anita Alvarez also debuted a new choreography as she received 87.1000 points to occupy the third step on the podium.
A reggae/rock combination of the song Jungle by Tash Sultana allowed Alvarez to showcase her strength and level of conditioning throughout her “Welcome to the Jungle” themed routine.
Alvarez, just returning after an injury which required surgery on her foot, was able to beautifully execute several transitions and a long hybrid at the end of her routine.
“I’ve been out for a couple of months. I’ve been doing a lot of recovery work outside of the pool. When I came back, I have been able to pick up where I left off and not be too far behind,” said Alvarez.
“I’m very happy and very excited that I was able to compete here; not just compete to compete, but compete to feel my best and be as strong as I could with the training, I’ve been able to put in.
“I’m looking forward to fixing a few things for the worlds in Budapest.”
Male Free Solo
In the Male Free Solo event, Fernando Diaz del Rio Soto of Spain scored 80.3333 points for his first-time performance of “Wolfman.” Swimming to music composed by Nick Phoenix and Thomas Bergersen earned Diaz del Rio Soto his first World Series gold medal in this event.
The competition for the silver medal was a close one. Italy’s Nicolo Ogliari's 76.5000 score prevailed, edging out the USA’s Kenneth Gaudet. Gaudet received 76.4667 points for bronze.
The medal winners shared their thoughts about the 2022 Super Finals in Athens:
“The competition was very nice. The competition was cool,” said Diaz Del Rio Soto.
“It’s a great competition and I’m so happy,” added Ogliari.
“It was a great competition and I’m excited and thankful to have other guys in the sport,” Gaudet said. “I’m thankful to meet everyone. The event was really well hosted and I learned a lot from it for next season.”
On their first return to the World Series after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Austria’s Anna-Maria and Eirini Alexandri demonstrated that they have been doing the training necessary to continue competing on the world stage. The Alexandri sisters posted a 90.4430 to top the podium.
“We’re very happy because our work has paid off. We’ve been very focused this year, maybe even more than we did last year with the Olympic Games” shared Eirini Alexandri. “We’re very happy with our points and for our performance, scoring more than 90 points. Now, we can’t wait for our free duet.”
With 84.8617 points, the silver medal went to the newly paired Dutch duet of Bregje de Brouwer and Marloes Steenbeek. De Brouwer is returning to competition without her twin sister with whom she finished ninth at the Tokyo Olympics.
“For me, it’s the first time back competing after the Olympics and with a new duet partner,” de Brouwer said when asked about their performance. “We’re quite happy with our performance and to be here in this beautiful pool. We really look forward to going to Budapest to compete at the world champs together."
Appearing for the first time this season in the Technical Duet event, USA’s Megumi Field and Daniella Ramirez performed a brand-new choreography “Stand with Ukraine” to the song 1944 by Ukrainian singer Jamala.
The performance carried a message of support for their Coach Anna Voloshyna and the Ukrainian people which earned the duo 84.3622 points and the bronze medal.
“We did a tech duet that really showed strength, and we’re really happy getting the results that we did,” said Daniella Ramirez.
Mixed Technical Duet
There were three duos competing in the Mixed Technical event, but Spain’s Emma Garcia and Pau Ribes were the strongest. With a score of 83.3138 points, Garcia and Ribes earned top honours for their Hansel and Gretel-inspired routine “Witch Hunters.”
Following the script from the previous World Series leg held earlier this month, the fight for the silver medal was between the USA’s Claudia Coletti and Kenneth Gaudet and Kazakhstan’s Eduard Kim and Zhaklin Yakimova.
This time the pair from the USA came out on top with 78.3346 points for the choreography, inspired by the Movie Venom.
Asked about the choice of music for their choreography, Gaudet said “competing to Eminem is a different vibe. Everyone wants to show their powers and strength,” with Coletti adding: “It’s really different. I’ve never swam to rap so it’s very nice.”
The pairing of Kim and Yakimova scored 78.2740 points for the bronze medal for their portrayal of the popular song All that Jazz from the movie Chicago.
The final event on the second day, the Free Team, featured three competitors. After having won the bronze in the Paris leg and the silver in the event leg, Israel continued their progression upwards to secure their first gold, scoring 85.1333 points with the routine “The Planet.”
Kazakhstan won silver with their 81.5333 point showing. They performed the routine “Vaiana” based upon the Disney movie Moana.
Slovakia claimed bronze. The Slovakian athletes scored 75.7333 to bring their first medal of the 2022 World Series season back home.
Israeli free team member Shelly Bobritsky highlighted the routine's dramatic choreography that put an emphasis on creativity and complex lifts.
"With the theme of our routine being the planets, we’re trying to create this variation of emotions that no one sees, but that you feel," Bobritsky said. "We do several lifts, each one different from the other.
"They are difficult, as well, but the most important thing we wanted to show was the variety – that we can do a lot of different things.
Added Bobritsky: "Of course, you can always find a few mistakes and improve, but overall our performance and the energy that came from us was very powerful."
Coming Up Next
The third-and-final day of the FINA Artistic Swimming World Series Super Final starts at 13:30 local time in Athens, Greece with the Duet Free, Mixed Duet Free, Mixed Team Highlight and Mixed Team Free Combination titles up for grabs.