Tomoaki Tasaka, FINA Press Correspondent in Japan

The FINA Artistic Swimming World Series held its inaugural leg in March in Paris, France, while athletes last competed in Kazan, Russia, for the 3rd leg.

The 4th out of nine leg is kicking-off on Saturday April 27 and will run until Sunday April 29 in Tokyo (JPN).

In the conference ahead of the competition, FINA Bureau Member Tamas Gyarfas and FINA TASC Chairwoman Lisa Schott expressed their gratitude and mentioned the significance in this leg.

"I thank all the people involved in this leg. I feel happy not only because of the perfect organisation but also because of the atmosphere. Wonderful artistic swimmers are participating and we would also like to the good work of the LOC", Tamas Gyarfas said.

"I appreciate the Japanese Swimming Federation to host this event. The athletes are very proud to be here in Japan. I hope every athletes have a wonderful time and have a lot of fun in Tokyo where the sushi is so nice!", Lisa Schott said.

Eleven world-top-ranked artistic swimmers represented the athletes at the conference today. Representatives from Japan were Yukiko inui, who collected two golds in the solo in the first leg this year and Megumu Yoshida. Chinese sisters Tingting and Wenwen Jiang, who won in the duet in the Asian Games 2018 and Spain’s Ona CARBONELL, who has achieved a world-wide reputation as a soloist, were also amongst the speakers.

In addition to these athletes, four Russian swimmers attended the conference: Multiple-time World champion and Olympic gold medallist Svetlana Kolesnichenko, five-time Olympic winner and World champion Svetlana Romashina, as well as mixed duet Aleksandr Maltsev and Mayya Gurbanberdieva.

Russia is the dominant force of the discpipline and at this event with a tally of 9 golds out of 10 events achieved at the last leg in Kazan. Romashina and Kolesnichenko talked to the media about what their goals for this season.

"First of all we thank the Committee for organising this leg. It will be my second competition after a long leave. Although the World Championships will be the most important event this year, we want to show our performance in the best way here in Tokyo", Romashina said.

"I am excited to be here because top athletes have gathered and we want to compare our performance", Japan’s Inui added with her enthusiasm.

Yoshida said as well: “The Artistic Swimming World Series and the World Championship are great experiences to the lead up to the 2020 Olympic Games to take place in Tokyo too.”

The first competition day will be highlighted by the Duet, the Mixed Duet Free, and the Solo and Team Technical.

In the Duet, Kolesnichenko and Romashina, who has come back to the front line, will show the audience their dynamic and refined performance. The Spanish pair, Ona Carbonell and Sara Sadaña, who performed beautifully in the Tokyo leg last year, and Japan’s InuI and Yoshida, who are developing their ability, are strong medal contenders.

World Championship 2017 champions Giorgio Minsini and Manila Flamini from Italy will compete in the mixed duet. They will try to improve their performance further in this leg than two years ago, seeking accuracy. Japan’s Yumi Adachi and Atsushi Abe, paired since 2015, are beginning to gain more confidence, after collecting gold in the second leg in Alexandroupolis, Greece.

In the Solo Technical Routine, Russian Kolesnichenko, Spanish queen Ona Carbonell and Japanese Inui are the favourites.

Eight countries will compete in the Team Technical Routine. Team China will catch the audience’s attention with a dynamic performance using long arms and legs with their long height. Japan is also expecting to impress the audience and the jury with their performance under their own theme. The Team event will strike the audience with many highlights because of the number of people. Eight swimmers in a team will show the audience a very high level of synchronisation.

On the second day, the Team, Duet and Mix Duet Free are taken place. The audience will surely be fascinated by the astonishing performances from the artistic swimmers show.

The third and final day will be staging the Highlight Routine. Excellent technics that is worth watching will be displayed, while the Solo Free, and the Free Combination will conclude the competition. This last day will be full of art and elegance.

Previous to the press conference, a Tokyo Aquatics Centre’s Tour was conducted as it will be the Tokyo 2020 official venue.

FINA TASC Chairwoman Lisa Schott, who took part in the tour said: "I saw the new Aquatics Centre. I think the Tokyo Olympics will be the best competition with very nice facilities."

The competition’s schedule is as follows.

Day1/27 April
Duet Technical Routine
Mixed Duet Technical Routine
Solo Technical Routine
Team Technical Routine

Day2/28 April
Team Free
Duet Free
Mixed Duet Free

Day3/29 April
Highlight Routine
Solo Free
Free Combination
GALA