Aimee Berg, FINA Press Correspondent in the US

(EAST MEADOW, N.Y.)  -   The evening session on Day 1 of the FINA Synchro World Series America Open began with three young squads vying for position in the team technical competition at the Nassau County Aquatic Center, less than an hour east of New York City.  

The U.S. placed first with a spirited Broadway routine that featured fast legwork in the final seconds – which it will perform again at the World Championships in Budapest next month. Canada’s NextGen team (who is here to gain international experience) placed second by showcasing its speed and clean lines in a military number. Argentina energized the crowd with a rock-and-roll theme for third.

In the technical duet event, Spain’s Ona Carbonell and Paula Ramirez predictably took first place with 85.5493 points for their water-themed program. But Carbonell was unimpressed.

“It’s not really good because we had some mistakes with synchronization,” said the 2012 Olympic silver medalist in duet. “We can do better, of course.”

Ona Carbonell & Paula Ramirez 1st place in Duet Tech

Canada, however, provided the story of the night as Jacqueline Simoneau, 20, and Claudia Holzner, 23, placed second despite only learning one week ago that that they were officially a duet.

“I think this is almost unheard of in the world of synchronized swimming,” said Simoneau, a 2016 Olympian. “We’ve had maybe four practices with this routine. Considering all the circumstances, I think we did amazing. Our elements, I think, are very strong so it was a great match.”

“It’s insane,” Holzner said after posting 85.9011 on the scoreboard. “It blows my mind. I’m extremely happy with the way we swam. It felt amazing so there’s nowhere to go but up.”

In third, was Anita Alvarez and 16-year-old Victoria Woroniecki of the U.S. with 82.6878.

New duet Jacqueline Simoneau (R) and Claudia Holzner (L)

Team quotes:

USA Team coach Jenny Ekhilevsky (1st place, team technical)
“I don’t think we’ve arrived yet, but it’s certainly a work in progress.  I think they did a great job with where we are today. We started training in mid-April.”

CAN Team coach, Kasia Kulesza (2nd place, team technical)
“I was very pleased with the outcome. I have a very young, talented group, and we’ve only been together for the last four weeks. For some of these kids, it’s their first experience on the senior level, and we still have juniors in the team. Overall, speed of movement was really good. [The best move] was our thrust in the middle of the routine. It was really high and well executed. We call it a Banquine; it’s a gymnastics term."

ARG Team coach, Monica Lopez  (3rd place, team technical)
“These girls are so young – we have five junior girls in the senior team. They are strong and they need to grow but I think this is the better team [than the last senior team]. We train in the second city of Argentina, Rosario. It’s the same city of Lionel Messi. The team started working together last year. I think that they have power inside their souls and they all hunger for one goal. They want to qualify to the next Pan Am Games, in 2019. And I think that we can catch this goal because they will do anything we say to go there.”