Alisa Ozhogina, a Moscow-born Russian and lifelong Spaniard from Seville, opened the surface like a flash. Her white and slender figure, her legs that break the water with power and reach to the waist, set the tone for the routine of the technical duo, who swam with the Catalan Iris Tió, both dressed in a golden swimsuit, to the sounds of “Beat it.” the hard rock classic made popular by Michael Jackson. The bronze medal they won this Monday in the technical duo final of the World Swimming Championships in Doha was like the nail that fastens the rope in the mountains. Another foothold in the long journey that the Spanish artistic swimming team is taking towards the Paris Games, and also on the path to excellence that it lost after reaching the summit in London 2012.
“We are super happy because we maintained our third place at the 2023 World Cup,” said Alisa; “Our most important goal now is to increase the difficulty of all exercises and to do them well and without risk. Powerful. The song motivates us a lot. The song says it: Beat it! Fight for your goals. “That’s how we are Spanish!”
From Fukuoka bronze to Qatar bronze, seven months later. Synchronized swimming is not developing so quickly. Skipping levels usually takes years, especially leveling up. China, which has remained close to the top for a decade, took advantage of Russia's absence, punished by the war in Ukraine, to win gold in a tournament whose primary incentive is Olympic qualification. Because Spain has a good duo, it will only secure a place at the Paris Games if it completes the team competition circuit in the free skate final, scheduled for Friday.
While men's and mixed synchronized swimming take a back seat and solo swimming is relegated to a third category, strategies focus on fine-tuning the disciplines that lead to Olympic gold: duo exercises and, above all, team exercises. There are three World Team events: Acrobatics, Technical and Free. Everyone is awarded a gold medal in three specific finals. Each final will receive a maximum of 33.3% of the total points awarded in the classification for the Games. Spain started the competition on Saturday and secured fifth place in the acrobatics tournament. All that remains is the technical final this Wednesday and the free final on Friday. If the Spanish team secures a place among the top five teams at the end of the World Cup, they will not only guarantee their presence in Paris, but will automatically qualify for the duo.
China, already in Paris
China, Ukraine, the United States, Canada, Spain, Italy and Japan took first through third place after last weekend's team acrobatics final. This Monday the Spanish women swam the team technical preliminary round. China ranked first with 304 points, Japan ranked second with 282 points, and Spain ranked third with 278 points, closely followed by the United States with 273 points. Considering there are five Olympic spots available and China already occupies the highest Asian ranking, Wednesday's end could mark a final step towards Paris.
In the distant English summer of 2012, Spanish swimmers led by Ana Tarrés – later an advisor to China, Ukraine, Greece and Israel – defeated China in the Olympic team and duo finals. Now the Chinese are hegemonic. The Wang twin duo won gold this Monday. Silver surprisingly went to the duo from Great Britain Isabelle Thorpe and Kate Shortman, who competed in Doha without a team.
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