Riccione 2012, Synchronised Swimming: A family affair


Compositions of pop, rock, soul, classical music blared on the loudspeakers for the five-day synchronised swimming competition of the 14th FINA World Masters Championships in Riccione, Italy. A total 588 competitors performed routines in solo, duet, trio, team and combination. Some travelled a long way to compete on the wonderful Adriatic coast. From Kobe, Japan, 89-year-old Chisako Oishi competed in the 80+ age group, bringing home a gold medal from the solo event. She earned a second gold medal with her daughter Mayumi Araki in the duet (70-79 age group). “I have trained hard up to three times a week for this event”, she said.

Team Caem from Canada also brought the family to Riccione, but at a quite different level. Two of the nine competitors had their young babies with them. “We must organise our training and practice according to the feeding schedule”, Annie Arseneau said. Robert Prevot is coaching the club's three teams that are in Riccione. "I'm responsible for creativity and artistry”, he explained. “And I'm having very busy days here at the championships”, he added.

One of the youngest competitors were the “Mermaid Twins” from Japan in the 20-29 age group. It is the first World Masters competition for 25-year-old Maya and Saya Kimura; they took part in the 2009 FINA World Championships in Rome with Japan's national team in the team and combination events. For competitors who are no stranger to the podium, the gold was an easy task in Riccione. “We love Italy!”, the twins said in unison, showing their nails painted in colours of the host's national flag.

“Before the start, I was a little bit nervous and worried”, Stefania Tudini, Chairwoman of the FINA Technical Synchronised Swimming Committee, admitted. "It was a big work, but we are very satisfied with the result”, she continued. “We got in touch with persons of different cultures and different stories and I think this is the strength and power of the Masters movement”, she concluded.