The World Aquatics Artistic Swimming World Cup 2023 Super Final wrapped up today in the popular northern Spanish city of Oviedo The three-day event, held at the Piscinas Parque del Oeste, was the final stop on the 2023 World Cup circuit as the World Aquatics Championships - Fukuoka 2023 comes next in July.
If the results from Oviedo are any indication, the World Aquatics Championships will be an exciting and unpredictable competition. The nine medals that were up for grabs today were won by athletes from seven countries.
In the past, this would be an unusual occurrence, but it is likely that this will be the future of the sport. Only Ukraine and Israel earned two medals each. While Spain tops the medal stand with nine medals total, four gold, four silver, and one bronze. Today the host nation added a lone silver to this medal collection.
Duet Free Woman
After opening the 2023 World Cup season in Markham, Canada with a historic gold medal win in the Technical Duet event, Israel’s Shelly Bobritsky and Ariel Nassee showed the world that it was not a one-time occurrence.
The Israeli pair nailed the high 36.1000 declared difficulty in the “New World” routine, choreographed to music prepared specially for this routine by Arnau Vilà, to finish on the top of the podium for the gold medal with 225.7915 points.
This medal is also Israel’s second gold in Oviedo. A very emotional Nasse shared “Yes, those were tears of joy. Our motivation was up here, through the roof. Last week, we changed the difficulty of our dance. Everything has been very intense; we were afraid to do a base mark, but we managed to swim our routine clean and very well.”
Added duet partner Bobritsky “We saw we could do it. So, this morning we woke up and said, “Okay, we can make it twice,” you know? This was our motivation right up to this moment. We were very, very focused. We knew we could win the gold. We are fighting for a medal, so we brought everything we had into this moment. We were focused. We knew exactly what we had to do. And we are very happy that we could make it.”
Ukrainian twin sisters Maryna and Vladyslava Aleksiiva claimed Ukraine’s third medal, a silver with 217.1771 points. Throughout the weekend, the Ukrainian athletes entered the events with very high difficulties, however, they struggled with the execution of the routines.
Today, the duo entered with the highest, 36.30, but received a base mark for one of the hybrids, to finish with 32.85 points. Their exceptional musical interpretation and artistry of “Scramble to Position” produced a strong enough artistic impression score to make it onto the podium and own the second spot.
The sisters were pleased with their performance, Vladyslava said “This was the most difficult routine we have ever done. Maryna added, “We have seven hybrids in the duet free, there’s so many rotations, thrusts, spins. You feel like you’re in an underwater disco.”
Vladyslava Aleksiiva opened up on the base mark score: “We know we picked up one base mark during one of our hybrids, but our coach says this was our best-ever performance. If she’s happy, we’re happy. When your coach tells you that you’ve done everything that you can, you can only be happy about it.”
The first medal for the Netherlands in Oviedo came from duo Bregje de Brouwer and Marloes Steenbeek. The Dutch performed their terror fantasy routine “Werewolves” to music which was composed specially by Alexis Maldiney to fit this routine. The fabulous interpretation of the strong theme throughout the choreography earned the declared difficulty of 32.45, which is also a personal best for the duo. With a total of 214.3355 points, de Brouwer and Steenbeek won the bronze medal.
Mixed Duet Free
Last year's World Aquatics Champion Haoyu Shi paired up with her Chinese teammate Wentao Cheng and presented the brand-new routine “Romeo and Juliet.” The Chinese duo, winners of the Technical events in Markham and Montpellier, performed the difficult, 35.20, yet beautifully choreographed love story to music by composer Michael Bruce from the original soundtrack “Romeo and Juliet”. As the only pair to execute each component of their routine’s declared difficulty, Cheng and Shi, who were awarded 226.3228 points and claimed China’s first medal in Oviedo, expressed their delight about their performance:
CHENG: “Our execution in today’s competition was our best. Actually, our entire performance was our best ever.”
SHI: “We’re so excited and enjoyed this competition. You’ll see us in Fukuoka, definitely.”
The silver medal with 204.3894 points was earned by the Spanish mixed duo Dennis Gonzalez Boneu and Mireia Hernandez Luna. Although their routine “Angels and Demons”, swum to music by Hans Zimmer and Nick Glennie-Smith has been presented at all three stops of the ASWC series, Gonzalez Boneu and Hernandez Luna have not performed the routine in competition as a pair.
Prior to injuring his foot, Gonzalez Boneu won the gold medal in Markham with his 2022 Junior World Champion partner Maria Bofill Strub. Hernandez Luna swam the routine with Diaz del Rio Soto in Montpellier and Somabay, winning silver and gold respectively.
Hernandez Luna commented on the changes the pair made to the routine for the Super Final, which successfully resulted in their highest difficulty yet, 31.5000 points.
“We’re satisfied, she said, “We took on the difficult task to change our routine and add in new parts and elements. We had to improve to achieve higher scores. We’re happy with where we are, but we have to keep trying to achieve the goal, to go to the World Championships and get a medal. That’s our goal.”
Winning Colombia’s fourth medal, the second bronze, in the Super Final, Jennifer Cerquera Hatiusca and Gustavo Sanchez, received 179.1333 points for their rendition of the choreography themed “The King and Queen” swum to the song “Tension” by Daniel Garuglieri.
The pair steadily improved their difficulty scores from Montpellier and Somabay and scored 25.0500 today. Satisfied about the progress in the difficulty scores, Cerquera Hatiusca said, “This feels so good. We’ve competed so much this week. We feel the fatigue, but we fight through the tiredness, and I think we did well. We can achieve higher scores – we can add in more difficulty, and we had one base mark on our routine today. We’ll try and get better for the World Championships.”
Sanchez, with one silver and three bronze to his name, on the demands of being an Artistic Swimming athlete:
“From the solos to the duets, I’ve competed so much here at the Super Final. I’m so tired now, but it’s all good. Maybe it’s because we smile throughout the entire routine, it looks easy. It’s not easy – not at all. And as we add more and more difficulty into the sport and our routines, the physical demands really increase.”
The final event of the Super Final, as well as the competitive closure of the 2023 Artistic Swimming World Cup series was the always spectacular and breathtaking Acrobatic event.
Team Ukraine stunned the audience with “Love to Smile”, choreography swum to a compilation of very upbeat happy music which was delightful to watch, leaving everyone feeling good.
Saving the best for last, the winners from Markham and Montpellier started the artistically, musically, and acrobatically well-balanced routine with an impressive one-handed handstand which set the tone for the rest of the performance for which they received the declared 19.75 and a total of 216.6701 points to claim the last gold medal available in Oviedo.
Sharing the excitement of this win was Valeriya Tyshchenko.
“We feel really excited now. We had a lot of hope we could perform at our best and we did it," Tyshchenko said. "Having these gold medals confirms this sense. We really like this routine. It’s one of our all-time favourite routines, which you can hear in the routine’s name: It’s Time to Smile.
"Every time when we do this routine, we’re smiling. It has good music and we’re always in a good mood when we perform it," Tyshchenko added. "We like to do a dynamic routine with lifts. Of course, to do a good acrobatic it’s something you have to train and train a lot. Again, and again and again we’re working to get this kind of outcome.”
With a score of 197.1600 points, Canada added a silver to the three bronze medals already won in the 2023 Super Final. The Canadians’ choreography was very creative and showcased great musical interpretation of the collection of Hip Hop songs.
Throughout the routine, the team was able to execute all requirements, but, noteworthy, was the original spinning platform at the start of their performance.
Closing out a successful event for their country, the team representing Israel performed the routine “Dream” beautifully and received their best difficulty score to date, a 17.25. With a total of 191.6033 points, a bronze medal was added to the Israeli collection in Oviedo.
Free Duet gold medalists Ariel Nassee and Shelly Bobritsky on the Acrobatic routine:
Nassee: “I think acrobatic is our favourite routine. It combines so many different things and parts of our sport. You have the artistic elements mixed with the acrobatic elements. We have to play with the music. Our acrobatic routine is about dreams and we really to make our choreography by this theme.”
Bobritsky: “The responsibility is much greater now on the lifting. If you don’t do the lifts, your difficulty degree falls greatly. We’re happy with all our lifts and with today’s energy, we brought very high energy today.”