Aimee Berg, FINA Press Correspondent in the US

(EAST MEADOW, N.Y.) – The FINA Synchronized Swimming World Series resumes on Thursday – this time at Nassau County Aquatic Center, about a 40 minute train ride from the heart of New York City.  For the next three days, soloists, duets, mixed duets, and teams from 10 countries will vie for medals and ranking points on the sixth leg of the inaugural seven-stop tour.

The America Open is also the last major synchro event before the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary (July 14-30).

Some people and performances to watch in New York:

SOLO & DUET:

Most solo athletes will compete in duet as well. Three names to know include Spain’s Ona Carbonell, Canada’s Jacqueline Simoneau, and Anita Alvarez of the U.S..

Carbonell, the so-called “Mermaid of Barcelona,” will try to mimic the movements of a snake in her solo technical routine set to music composed by Peter Gabriel. Her solo free program will be a slow, romantic number that reflects the beating of one’s heart in various stages of a relationship.  

In the duet, Carbonell, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist, will perform with her partner of nine months, Paula Ramirez. Their technical program, about various forms that water takes, is the same one Carbonell did at the 2016 Rio Olympics (where she ultimately placed fourth). In the free, the pair will perform to a famous Spanish classical song for the second time in a World Series event. It, too, is a reprise of Carbonell’s Olympic program.

At poolside on Wednesday, their coach Esther Jauma said, “I’m really proud of the job they’ve done – especially Paula who made a big effort to be at Ona’s level. They match really well and have a very similar way of moving in the water. Paula is really mature in the water for 21.”

Canada’s Jacqueline Simoneau, 20, who has earned solo medals at the French Open, Japan Open and Canada Open will be looking for more honors in New York. Simoneau’s Rio 2016 duet partner, Karine Thomas, retired in May so it was announced last week that she will be competing with Claudia Holzner, 23, from Calgary, Alberta.

American Anita Alvarez, 20, who has been showing promise as a soloist, will reprise both of her duet routines from the 2016 Rio Olympics here in New York – this time with 16-year-old Victoria Woroniecki.  They started working together last fall and have been training in California while Woroniecki, a Florida native, has been trying to finish high school online. The U.S. duet plans to perform these programs at the 2017 world championships as well.

MIXED DUET:

The clear favorite for gold is American Bill May – the 2015 world champion in the technical program and silver medalist in the free – and his new partner and colleague from Cirque du Soleil’s “O” show in Las Vegas: Kanako Kitao Spendlove. (Spendlove was also a 2004 Olympic silver medalist in the team event for Japan.) Be sure to check out the opening sequence of their technical program to “Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing”  by Chris Isaak when Spendlove, 35, stands on May’s shoulders and May, 38, gets so much lift that his head is out of the water.  The theme of their free program is Perseus and Medusa. Their challengers include mixed duets from Germany, Panama, and Canada (featuring 2015 world championship veteran Robert Prevost, 37, and his new partner Isabelle Blanchet-Rampling who turns 31 on Saturday).

TEAM EVENT:

The team event will be a three way battle between Canada, the U.S., and Argentina.

The U.S. technical program is a take on an old Broadway musical. Its free program will debut the “Spirit of Africa.”  The U.S. team only started training together in May and its average age is 18.

Canada also entered a young squad in the team event. “It’s our next generation team,” said two-time Olympic coach Sheilagh Croxon, so it will not appear at the 2017 World Championships but “it’s in line to be the next senior team to compete at the highest level.” It, too, has only been training together for one month, in Montreal.

COMBINATION & HIGHLIGHT:

There are no senior international teams in either Combination or Highlight events.

SCHEDULE:

Thursday, June 22:      Team Technical, Duet Technical
Friday, June 23:     Mixed Duet Technical, Solo Technical, Team Free
Saturday, June 24:     Solo Free, Mixed Duet Free, Duet Free