Montreal 2009, Day 1: Canada leads after two events

The world's best synchronized swimmers returned to Montreal to compete in the 4th edition of the FINA Synchronised Swimming World Trophy. The national federations of Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain and United States will perform five events: “Synchro Highlight Routine”, “Thematic Duet”, “Solo”, “Thematic Team” and “Combination. In order to enhance the spectacular routines in synchronised swimming, the FINA Synchro World Trophy has different rules than the ones used at Olympic Games or World Championships. The main differences relate with the possibility of wearing accessories, to the judgement of the deck movements, or to the length of the programmes.

Just four summers ago Montreal hosted the very successful 2005 FINA World Championships.  Just prior to the competition Montreal's Mayor Gerald Tremblay was presented with the FINA Order in recognition of his outstanding support for the organisation of the 2005 FINA World Championships. This competition is being held at the aquatics venue of the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games.

Canadian Olympic medalist and legend Sylvie Frechette predicted "great interest in the Canadian team performances at this competition which emphasizes artistry and creativity; these are internationally recognized Canadian trademarks in the sport.". Frechette serves as the Honorary President of the event and as a mentor to the Canadian team.  She won an Olympic Gold medal in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games and followed with a Olympic Silver medal at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games. Frechette continued: "The competition is a very important opportunity for Canada to face the world's best synchronized swimmers and this is part of our preparations for the 2012 Olympic Games."   The Canadian team finished fourth place in Beijing and earned two bronze medals in the combo and solo events this past summer at the FINA World Aquatic Championships in Rome.

HIGHLIGHTS ROUTINE (Day One)

The team from Canada was crowned the champions in front of an enthusiastic hometown audience in the initial segment of competition. Their brilliant and innovative performance included consecutive "sky high" lifts and a "sea serpent on the loose" in the 1976 Olympic pool.  The Canadians offered a surprising array of lifts and throws that thrilled the audience and the judges alike.  Their mark of 98.333, including two 9.9 marks and was reflective of the extraordinary style and athleticism that was on display by the 12 swimmers from Canada.  The team from Russia placed second with a score of 97.333 and they were followed by the team from the China that tallied 96.000.

"This is the first time that I experience this in all my career" said Canadian Team head coach Denise Sauvé about the two 9.9 marks.“Right after we started walking on the deck, we felt that the energy was there”, said Team Canada captain, Ève Lamoureux.

Although this is the fourth edition of this FINA competition, the innovative program is exclusive to the FINA World Trophy.  All 10 teams were judged on artistic impression and on the success of their transitions from platform lift, floating pattern, cadence action and throw - there is no scoring for technical merit .  The FINA World Trophy brings an additional spectacular dimension to this discipline, creating more emotion concerning the final result and providing an added value to the TV viewers and spectators

The highlights routine is dynamic and thematic and relies on strong music and a spectacular routine where all 12 swimmers are in the pool.  Music from the career of Michael Jackson's Thriller album was a popular choice of several teams.  The fourth place team from Spain competed in "skeleton" swimwear to accent their theme.  The challenge of synchronizing 24 arms and 24 legs is not as easy one, made more difficult by a fast paced 2 minute routine where swimmers are underwater for more than half of the time.  Assuredly the Canadians mastered this to the satisfaction of audience who were "wowed" by their rousing performance.  Swimming in the sixth position, it was obvious that they were the best in the pool with only half of the routine completed.

THEMATIC DUET ROUTINE (Day One)

The rivalry between the Quebec Nordiques and the Montreal Canadians was the inspiration for Canada's second award winning performance on the first day of competition.  Marie-Pier Boudreau-Gagnon and Chloe Isaac performed an authentic clash of these two legendary NHL teams but in the water instead of  on frozen ice. In this event where the use of accessories are permitted, the creativity of the Canadians was on display throughout the performance.

Denise Sauvé , head coach of the Canadian Olympic team was sure that the performance would excite the fans: "What better tradition in Quebec is there that these two hockey meeting on the ice. Hockey is a religion in Montreal.  As Canadians we are known for bending the rules and pushing the limits so we were daring in our choice of accessories tonight by using the entire team.  We gave the athletes the concept of this rivalry but they refined it into a impressive performance."  The entire team in hockey jerseys was "on deck" for the face off at the start of "the game".  Boudreau-Gagnon and Isaac used hockey sticks and a puck throughout the contest that was punctuated by the NHL's signature buzzer.  They earned three other 9.9 marks for a total of 98.667 points. Last summer in Rome, Boudreau-Gagnon and Isaac took the 4th position in the free duet event at the 2009 FINA World Aquatic Championships.

The Canadian women bested the Russian duet which included Natalia Ischenko, the gold medalist in the free solo event at the 2009 FINA World Championships and Svetlana Romashina who earned 97.667 points.  In third position was the Spain duet of Ona Carbonell and Andrea Fuentes who collected 97.333 points.

Canada is sitting on first rank in a team event for the first time since the 1986 FINA World Aquatic Championship, as well as in a duet event for the first time ever.