Indianapolis 2010, day 2: Russia prevails in Solo and Combination events

The energy and the enthusiasm of FINA’s youngest athletes was evident and also contagious during the preliminaries of the Combination at “The Nat” on the campus of IUPUI in Indianapolis. The second day of competition of the 12th FINA/eSynchro World Junior Synchronised Swimming Championships yielded few surprises in the evening's Combination Event or the morning’s preliminary Solo stage.

Athletes from Russia, Ukraine, China and Canada found themselves in the top three spots in the Solo and combination events after the preliminary rounds. The Solo requires a swimmer to synchronise a routine to music. The Combination is considered a fan-favorite and incorporates a variety of different routines into one four and a half minute programme. Ten athletes from each nation swam a programme set to the music that gave their performances a unique signature reflecting their athleticism and artistry.

Fourteen nations from the continents of the Americas, Asia and Europe entertained the audience and the ever observant judges with some of the most creative performances in the history of the FINA Junior World Championships.

The biennial event is open to Junior National Teams world-wide and marks the 12th time the competition has been held. The internationally-sanctioned competition features the Team and Duet events, which are also Olympic disciplines.

In the Combination the Russian swimmers were the second team to enter the water but immediately took their familiar standing at the top of the scoreboard with a 91.460 point score. The defending champions in this event wondered if any of the 12 remaining teams might approach their scores but they remained the only team to score higher than 90 points. Naraliya Mendygalieva, the Russian team's head coach said: "Our team responded to the music and swam well in the event where the top six teams were very competitive. I saw some mistakes in our programme, but this is normal for coaches to see these small mistakes. We will work to improve them so these mistakes are not evident to the judges."

The team from Ukraine, the 10th team to enter the water waited anxiously during a brief technical delay in the posting of their scores. This was only a momentary delay in the celebration of their ascension to a second-place ranking with a score of 89.450. Head coach Olesia Zaitseva spoke of her team's performance: "It was a very good performance...great in fact....almost perfect! The girls believe that they can be the number-one team in this tournament. The girls have trained together for one year and they are capable of improvement."

The team from China swam in the 12th position and their performance merited the third highest ranking in the preliminaries: "It was a very good performance from our girls, much better than what I have seen in training" said Yuan Zhao, the head coach of the Chinese athletes. "I didn't see any mistakes in today's performance".

In the morning’s Solo preliminary results, Vlada Chigireva of Russia was the top swimmer posting a score of 91.42. Chigireva studied ballet before joining her teammates in the pool and she is the European Junior Champion. Her coach said: "It was not a strong performance, she can swim much better and I am sure she will in the finals."

Lilita Ananasova of Ukraine also bettered the 90 point threshold with her routine score of 90.54.  The 18 year old Ananasova was third in the European Championships, placing behind athletes who are 25 and 26 years of age with far greater experience in the sport. Canada's Emilia Kopchik is third ranked with 88.28 points.

The world's most elite junior synchronised swimmers finished out the preliminary competition with the Solo and Combination events and will compete in the Figure competition on Friday, while finals will take place on Saturday and Sunday.

Preliminary scores (for the Solo, Duet and Team events) will be combined with Friday’s figure scores to determine the 12 finalists. The world junior champions in both the Solo and Combination events will be crowned Sunday at the conclusion of finals.