London 2012 synchronized swimming: Russia leads duet at London Games
LONDON — Natalie Ishchenko likes the technical portion of synchronized swimming, and she displayed it on the first day of contest in the Olympic pool.
Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina of Russia scored a 98.200 points in the duet technical routine on Sunday and remained on the top.
“They are machines,” Spain’s Andrea Fuentes Fache said. “I want to congratulate them because I don’t understand how they can be so good.”
Russia’s opening 25 seconds of quick legwork was rightly timed to the rhythm of the Michael Jackson song “They Don’t Care About Us.” Ishchenko and Romashima executed the eight technical elements with exactitude, but the crowd applauded loudest for their quickness and energy in the water.
“All the new routines we do other teams copy straight away, so we tried to keep our Olympics routine a secret,” said Ishchenko.
Ishchenko has been winning every technical solo event since the 2007 world championships.
“We have the best coaches and specialists in the world, and thank God, they still live in Russia,” she said.
China’s Huang Xuechen and Liu Ou were second with 96.100 points after performing on the kung fu music.
“We felt lots of pressure at the start because it is the first day of competition and these scores will contribute to the final score,” Liu said.
Spain’s Ona Carbonell Ballestero and Fuentes Fache took third with 96.000 points. They were slightly out of harmony on their last drive and 360-degree spin.
“We try not to count how long we are underwater because otherwise we would faint,” Fuentes Fache said.
The U.S. duo of Mary Killman and Mariya Koroleva were at 10th with 87.900 points with a routine to the song “Think” by Aretha Franklin. Koroleva is of Russian heritage, so her loyalties are divided.
“It’s difficult for me to live in America and just be an American because my heart is still Russian,” she said. “It’s difficult to divide between my love to America and my love to Russia, so I support both teams.”
Killman and Koroleva put their own style on their routine, coming up with some of the strokes, and designing the costumes that Killman’s mother made. Still, they know they are chasing Russia, which has dominated the sport for several years. Russia won all seven synchro titles at last year’s world championships in Shanghai.
“The Russians are amazing,” Killman said. “Even those who compete against them are in awe, let alone spectators who watch synchronized swimming. We’re always trying to strive for Russia.”
The Canadian pair of Marie-Pier Boudreau Gagnon and Elise Marcotte had the crowd clapping along with their routine to “Din Daa Daa” by George Krantz. They scored 94.500 points and land in fourth.
The technical scores will be added to the marks from Monday’s free routine, with the top 12 teams advancing to the final on Tuesday.
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