Montreal 2009, Day 3: Canada crowned new champion

A new champion, the team from Canada, was crowned at the 4th FINA Synchronised Swimming World Trophy held at Montreal's Olympic Park Sports Center, the venue of the 1976 Olympic Games. Canada won the Highlight Routine and Thematic Duet on Friday and finished first in the Thematic Team event last evening. The squad from the host federation collected enough points to win the 4th FINA World Trophy this evening following their third place finish in the Combination Team routine in the fifth and final event of the programme. Canada ranked fourth in the third edition of this competition held in Spain and won by the host nation last year.

The total score accumulated during the five events of the competition allowed Canada to climb on the top of the podium ahead of Russia. The cumulative score for Canada was 491.666 points, followed by Russia with 491.333 points, and Spain with 485.666 points. Marie-Pier Boudreau-Gagnon (CAN) and Chloe Isaac (CAN) won the Thematic Duet event and Boudreau-Gagnon (CAN) finished second to the FINA World Champion Natalia Ischenko (RUS) in the solo event. The Canadian team received their first 10.0 score since the 1992 Olympics in Saturday's Thematic Team Routine. Another milestone for the Canadian squad was a finish ahead of the powerful Russia team, the first time this has occurred since the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.

In the final session of the FINA World Trophy competition the 10 teams performed the Combination Team Routine which included two solos, two duets and three trios during each five minute routine. The Russian squad was composed of the same swimmers that competed in Rome and they won the fifth and final event. At the last event of the weekend Russia took the first position at the combo event with 98.667 points, followed by Spain with 98.333 points and Canada with 98.000 points. Canada kept the third spot acquired at the 2009 FINA World Championships last summer in Rome.

The Russian margin of victory in the Combination Team Routine tonight was not enough to dislodge Canada from the overall race for the 2009 FINA World Trophy. Russian Coach Tatiana Pokrovskaya was complimentary of the Canadian performances, "Canada was very bright and creative and I wish to congratulate their swimmers and coaches. The competition was interesting but the new rules, in my opinion, resulted in some unacceptable practices. For the Russian team it was a good result today and a successful competition."

Spain finished second to Russia in the Free Combination Team Routine earning another 10.0 score from a judge in this evenings programme. The Spanish team placed third in the overall scoring for the FINA World Trophy. Anna Tarres, the Spanish coach offered that these comments. "The new rules allowed great freedom and Canada had superbly applied the new rules and used  accessories, extra elements and their imagination in a very smart programme. For the Spanish team we are swimming with new people since the FINA World Championships; our superstar Gemma Mengual (ESP) did not compete here. There have been many changes in our squad since Rome and it takes time for our new swimmers to gain the necessary experience, but we are working to build our Olympic team in time for the next Olympics."

“I couldn't be more proud of our team", said Team Canada head coach Denise Sauvé. “The performances of our swimmers this week-end exceeded our expectations. They consolidate our comeback on the international scene, which is promising for the 2012 Olympic Games. Also, we cannot forget to mention the support of the local crowd who certainly contributed to the comeback on the top step of the podium. On behalf of the Canadian Team, thank you!”

“It’s really amazing”, said Team Canada’s Captain Ève Lamoureux. “With the Russian domination in the past years, we can see today that everything is possible. This first position is giving us even more confidence for competitions to come. After our performances at the 2009 FINA World Championships, we are excited to continue our preparations, at home, with the objective to win at least one medal at the 2012 Olympic Games,’’ said Lamoureux.

The Canadian team included Marie-Pier Boudreau Gagnon, Stéphanie Durocher, Jo-Annie Fortin, Sandy Gill, Chloé Isaac, Emilia Kopcik, Stéphanie Leclair, Karine Thomas, Valérie Welsh, Erin Wilson, Ève Lamoureux and Marie-Lou Morin.

Olympic Gold (1992) and Silver (1996) ) medalist Sylvie Fréchette, the honorary president for this FINA World Trophy orchestrated a show where water, fire and percussions came together a spectacular show for the closing ceremonies on the Sunday night.