Higa claimed World gold (Duet Tech) and bronze (Duet Free) medals with Mashiro Tasunaga in 2023, but they finished second and fourth in the respective events at the Paris World Cup last month.

Selectors revised the line-up to see if Sato, the previous duet reserve, could help improve performances in more challenging routines.

The Higa-Sato combination achieved a combined score of 253.7730 to claim victory in the Duet Free final in Canada, an increase of 17.0396 points on Higa-Tasunaga’s total in France.

Image Source: Antoine Saito/Artistic Swimming Canada/World Aquatics

It should be noted, however, that Higa-Sato’s performance in the Tech event earlier in the competition resulted in a score that was 11.8183 lower than that of Higa-Tasunaga in May.

“We started as a pair two weeks ago so it’s very new, but we’ve made a good start and we’re very happy,” Moe Higa told World Aquatics.

Joining the Japanese duet on the podium were Canadian’s Jacqueline Simoneau and Audrey Lamothe (246.5501), with Maryna and Vladyslava Aleksiiva of Ukraine (242.1772) third.

Image Source: Antoine Saito/Artistic Swimming Canada/World Aquatics

Achieving a medal at the final World Cup of the season should ensure the Aleksiiva sisters are now nominated to represent Ukraine at Paris 2024, especially given rivals Daria Moshynska and Anastasiia Shmonina finished with a score 31.825 points lower.

Simoneau ended the competition as the most decorated athlete, with six medals, five silver, after delighting and dazzling home fans with a series of impressive displays across solo, duet and team events.

“I think we’ve had far from perfect swims this weekend and I can almost guarantee you’re going to see a completely different (Duet Free) routine in Paris,” Simoneau told World Aquatics.

“But it’s all a learning experience and hopefully from here on out it’s onwards and upwards.”

Double Mixed Duet Delight For Spain

Image Source: Antoine Saito/Artistic Swimming Canada/World Aquatics

Prior to the Markham World Cup Dennis Gonzalez Boneu had not competed since the Doha 2024 World Championships in February, after undergoing knee surgery, but he marked his return to action by adding the Mixed Duet Free title to the Tech gold alongside Emma Garcia.

The pair, who will compete in the European Championships together later this month, achieved a combined score of 200.3854.

It saw them finish clear of Italian duo Felippo Pelati and Flaminia Vernice (192.9375) as well as the Kazakhstan pair Viktor Druzin and Anna Pavletsova (181.5833).

Image Source: Antoine Saito/Artistic Swimming Canada/World Aquatics

“We tried to do all the difficulty in this routine because it’s a very hard routine, so we swam with our heart and also our head,” Gonzalez Boneu told World Aquatics.

Garcia added, “We had a really hard month. Dennis had a knee injury; he had surgery, so I think we have to be really proud of what we have achieved.”

Awesome Acrobatic Routines Conclude World Cup In Canada

Image Source: Antoine Saito/Artistic Swimming Canada/World Aquatics

Despite claiming Olympic bronze at the Tokyo 2020 Games, Ukraine did not qualify as a team for the Paris 2024 Games. But there is optimism for the future, with their youthful squad attaining victory in the Acrobatic final.

The line-up, which featured just one athlete in their twenties – double world champion Anhelina Ovchynnikova – achieved a combined total of 244.4834.

“We were so happy because we did a lot of work; our coach said we had to put on a show, and I think we did,” Yelyzaveta Lymar told World Aquatics.

“This is our first big international competition, and this emotion is amazing.”

Image Source: Antoine Saito/Artistic Swimming Canada/World Aquatics

China’s squad, consisting of athletes primarily focused on attaining places in their national line-up after the Paris 2024 Games, took silver (242.6500).

After a busy schedule, Simoneau was rested, but her Canadian team-mates rallied to grab bronze (236.2024).

“We could really feel the crowd and one another and it was just an amazing swim in front of friends and family,” Jonnie Newman told World Aquatics.

“We were able to keep taking steps (towards the Super Final and the Olympic Games) and it (bronze) shows that our progress is still coming.”

What Happens Next For Artistic Swimming’s Elite Athletes?

Image Source: Antoine Saito/Artistic Swimming Canada/World Aquatics

Many of the European athletes will next head to their continental championships in Belgrade, Serbia, later this month before the top ranked artistic swimmers reconvene for the Super Final in Budapest, Hungary, from 5-7 July.

The artistic swimming programme at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games will take place between 5-11 August.