Olga Kamardina, FINA Correspondent in Russia

The Olympic medal-winning Russians Svetlana Kolesnichenko and Svetlana Romashina are only the two out of some 20 prominent names on the competitors list signed up for the FINA Artistic Swimming World Series in Kazan to be launched this Friday. The artistic week-end in the heart of Russia will kick off on April, 19, to hit the tape in 3 days.

Kazan’s premiere

The event, hosted by the Kazan’s Aquatics Palace, is the third out of eight legs in the 2019 circuit, which is designed to reach climax in Budapest at the Super Final premiere later this mid-June. Like Hungarian capital, Tatar’s city is pretty well known in the aquatics world. Appearing on the map in 2013, Kazan turned out to be a proud host for the FISU Summer Universiade, two years later (2015) gave floor for the FINA World Championships and FINA World Masters Championships. They have already hosted 3 Junior Worlds on artistic swimming and diving, and a number of other top level diving events, though never before had a chance to offer hospitality for the Artistic Swimming World Series. Finally, the gap shall be filled this April, bringing here a selection of sounding names.

Some 300 athletes of 12 nations will have 3 busy days, swimming 5 technical (Solo, Mixed Duet, Duet and Team) and 5 Free routines (Solo, Mixed Duet, Duet, Team, Combination and Highlight). The participants number impresses as the 3rd leg of the FINA Artistic Swimming World Series integrates Russian Championships, one of the strongest on the continent. 10 sets of medals are again on offer, including a very spectacular Mixed Duets contest, which did officially crown their first world champions here, 4 years ago.

All eyes on stars

As for the stars to watch, Russian girls will be the major attractions, as they normally are wherever they come. Italy, China, Belarus, Hungary and Austria are among the main contenders for the podium spots.

Solo.

Svetlana Kolesnichenko will hope to bring her vast experience to mark her official start of the international season. Last year, the 2016 Olympic champion and 13 times world champion set the bar at sky high 95.5000 points for the Free program, whereas her teammate Varvara Subbotina posted a season-best in the tech event, 94.1509. However, the latter will not be a part of the chase on gold in solo this week-end, the same holding true for the “reigning queens”. Ukrainian Marta Fiedina and Yukiko Inui of Japan, recording the 2019 best at 92.7000 for Free and 90.5294 for Technical programs, will not come to Kazan leaving the door open for… Vasilina Khandoshka of Belarus. Remember her breakthrough bronze at the inaugural leg of the ASWS 2019 in Paris. Top class swim shall be expected by the Italian star Linda Cerruti, already silver this year (Solo Free, Leg#1). In Kazan, she is going to swim both solos cherishing a good hope to add up to her 6 medals collection of 2018.

Duets.

The very Linda Cerruti pairing her many years partner Costanza Ferro shall be a sure bet in duets.

 

Last year they hit 1-2 in both routines, and already got a silver per each of the two previous FINA ASWS-2019 stops. Although they could never before reach Ukrainian headliners Marta Fiedina/Anastasiia Savchuk and Aleksiiva sisters (who collected the best harvest on points: 91.4462 – for technical, and 92.8000 for free program), Kazan will give them a good chance to exhibit.
A great comeback of Svetlana Romashina to match Svetlana Kolesnichenko is in the focus, of course. With their eyes on Tokyo-2020 Olympic Games, home hopes are hot ready to present in Russia their new programs.

Team routines.

Russia’s leg of the FINA Artistic Swimming World Series-2019 will definitely note absence of the artistic powerhouse Ukraine. Dominating the 2018 edition in all team events (they pocketed 4 golds in Highlights and in the Team Free, 5 per Free Combo and Team Technical routines), they took a successful start in 2019, finishing atop of the Team Technical in France and in Greece on scores which have always been over 90. In their absence, all eyes shall be again on Russia. Mariia Shurochkina, Marina Goliadkina, Alla Shishkina, Vlada Chigireva, Polina Komar, Anastasiia Arkhipovskaia, Varvara Subbotina and Mayya Doroshko are comparatively a new squad, pretty well trained and drilled, but in want of good chemistry and the public appraisal. We shall count hours to see their brand new technical and free programs.

The bar, raised last year, is again pretty high: 97.0000 – for the Team Free, 94.6290 – for the Team Technical, and 4 of the swimmers-hosts took their share in the record-setting.

A good challenge shall come in the face of Belarus, at least for the Team Technical, which brought them gold last year in Samorin. Kazakhstan and Hungary have their trumps in place. They are the only two teams out of Kazan’s crowd having tested those programs in action, though stopped at a distance to the winning three. Magyars with Russian-drilled coach Natalia Tarasova, are the only ones with the Highlights and Team Free Combination done and shown, and the latter earned them bronze 3 weeks ago in Aleksandroupolis.

Mixed Duets.

Heading the mixed duets field will be the world and European champion Aleksandr Maltsev and his female partner Maya Gurbanberdyeva. Their first appearance in the 2019 edition of the FINA Artistic Swimming World Series is long awaited indeed. Last year’s “Sing” by Benny Goodman program set the bar at sky high for the free routine, 91.9333, bringing alongside two golds. The Russians could have well expected a strong competition against Abe Atsushi/Adachi Yumi from Japan (with 3 golds out of 4), and Italian Giorgio Minisini/Mariela Flamini (holders of the best result of the current circuit, 90.1000 for the Mixed Duet Free), but they both will not be in the game. Their absence, definitely noted, will give a podium chance for the rising duos. One of them can come from China or Spain.

Schedule

Friday, April, 19: Solo Technical, Duet Technical, Mixed Duet Technical, Team Technical, Opening Ceremony.
Saturday, April, 20: Solo Free, Duet Free, Mixed Duet Free, Team Free.
Sunday, April, 21: Team Highlight, Team Free Combination, Gala.

Formula

FINA Artistic Swimming World Series is a dynamic circuit, designed to allow artistic swimmers compete in various locations worldwide. Launched in 2017, it consisted of 7 stops, growing by 3 one year later. Edition of 2019 boasts a new structural improvement, which will come as a Super Final, seeing the strongest swimmers of the year in one location.

FINA ASWS-2019 kicked off in Paris on the first of March, then travelled to the Greek town of Alexandroupolis. Mapping Kazan, it will head on to Tokyo, Beijing, Greensboro of the USA, Quebec and Barcelona to finally reach climax in Budapest in June, right after all 8 regular legs are over.

According to the ASWS concept, alongside podiums, participants of the competitions and their respective national federations receive ranking points. The top 4 results of each Federation will be cumulated to have an overall ranking by category: solo, duet, mixed duet and team. Prize money and trips to the ASWS Super Final will be allocated accordingly.