Gergely Csurka, FINA Media Committee

Russia made the most out of Leg 5 in the FINA Artistic Swimming World Series Budapest Open, clinching as many titles – four – as many events they entered. On the closing day, Varvara Subbotina won the solo free and the team also came first in the free routine. Ukraine claimed four golds and had four more silvers behind their arch-rivals during the meet.

Varvara Subbotina offered something special once again after the technical programme, her free routine was even more charming. The 17 year-old Russian’s unlimited flexibility means that she is able to show elements no other competitor is capable of. Her ankles routinely appeared above her head, her opening sequence on stage while holding her leg under her chin can already be considered her trademark. Varvara’s win was never in doubt as she scored 95 points and bagged her second gold upon her senior international debut. Her magic is going to be a highlight soon in the world stage, first at the junior Worlds, to be staged here in the Duna Arena on 18-22 July.

Unlimited flexibility is just a basic capability for Varvara Subbotina (Photos: Jozsef Szaka)

“I’m so happy to win two gold medals right in my first senior international event” Subbotina said. “I’m basically satisfied with my results but I want to come back to the junior Worlds harder and stronger in July.”

It was great to see that the current Russian No 1. Svetlana Kolesnichenko, four-time world champion in 2017, so greatly supports the young star who might replace her on the top in some time. Kolesnichenko was keen to translate for Subbotina, later she helped her making special photos on the pool deck. On being the greatest prodigy of the leading nation, Subbotina responded like this: “I’m too young to think of that. Now I have only one task, to work hard, 10-12 hours a day in order to reach the necessary level of the senior field.”


Medallists of the solo free event

Ukraine’s Yelizaveta Yakhno also offered a brilliant performance and grabbed the silver – with another second place later in the team event her tally stood at 8 medals, four golds and four silvers, quite an amazing collection in a three-day event!

Sport-loving locals proved once again that they had really good taste: the Hungarian fans – contributing a lot to the success of last year’s World Championships by making electrifying atmosphere in all venues – turned out in huge numbers for the closing team free event. More than 2,000 spectators filled the tribunes of the Duna Arena and they could enjoy a brilliant show. Again, the Russians and the Ukrainians were a class apart, and the Russians really belong to a class of their own. Their 97-pointer was simply amazing, so they completed a minor sweep by claiming gold in all four events they entered. Ukraine got the silver here while Israel was good for the bronze.

The Russians were thrilling once again

The meet-ending gala was even more spectacular. After some of the participants repeated their best routines respectively, 90 small children – all local age-group swimmers – performed a special mass routine, then came the big show, a special pool-deck dance for everyone in the arena. With the choreography being shown on the big screen, even the spectators joined the performance and all participating athletes, volunteers and even the judges danced together – creating more unforgettable moments in the Duna Arena.

Dancing all around: the gala was a real hit in the Duna Arena

The FINA Artistic Swimming World Series continue next week, Leg 6 will be staged in Madrid (ESP).


FINA Artistic Swimming World Series Budapest Open – Medallists, Day 3

Solo free routine

1. Varvara Subbotina (RUS) 95.3330

2. Yelyzaveta Yakhno (UKR) 92.7999

3. Linda Cerruti (ITA) 90.5668

Team free routine

1. Russia 97.0000

2. Ukraine 93.3333

3. Israel 80.6668