Artistic Swimming: Russia Still Going Strong a Year Before the Games

The 2019 World Championships in Gwangju once again demonstrated Russia's relentless dominance in artistic swimming. Led by the two Svetlanas — Kolesnichenko and Romashina — the squad won all nine events in which they competed, making them the sure favourite for the discipline's two gold medals (team and duet) at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

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"Fantastic Tokyo" is the musical choice of the gold-medal-winning duo, Svetlana Kolesnischenko and Svetlana Romashina. Their objective is clear, the two Russians want their country to continue its domination of this discipline at the Olympic Games. Since the Olympic Games Sydney 2000, Russia has won every single gold medal for the two disciplines included in the Olympic programme, both as a team or in a duet. Their record clearly shows that Kolesnischenko and Romashina are a definite dream team with a stellar track record. 

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Mother and Gold Medal Winner 

At the age of 29, Svetlana Romashina has already won five Olympic gold medals — three with the  team and two with Natalya Ischenko — and 20 World Championships titles, including three that were recently picked up in the Republic of Korea, both individually and in duet with Svetlana Kolesnishenko. Most importantly, this competition marked her return to the highest levels of competition less than two years after giving birth to her daughter in November 2017. "I was waiting for her," Kolesnischenko said. "I knew she'd return. She's my hero. I don't know how she does it, being a mom and a top athlete at the same time."

Performed to music entitled "Fantastic Tokyo" by the Japanese band Hijana, they proved their routine was already in a well-advanced state ahead of their Olympic appearance. They made their mark with their free duet programme called 'Spider'. Dressed in gold-coloured costumes covered with spider webs, they soared over the competition by performing superb arm and leg movements inspired by the famous predatory insect. 

Carmen and Lara Croft 

The star of the Gwangju World Championships was Svetlana Kolesnischenko, who added three gold medals to her collection, for a total of 16 World Championship titles. In solo technical, she kept her crown by defeating the famed Spaniard, Ona Carbonell, by transforming herself into a warrior to the backdrop of the Lara Croft movie's theme song "Survivor". "For me, this choreography evokes the fight against one's own fears," she explained. "There is a very difficult element at the end of the sequence called ‘Barracuda’. I feared it and didn't do it the way I wanted to, but it was enough."

In solo free, Svetlana Romashina dominated the competition with several extremely difficult leg movements to the music of Georges Bizet's celebrated opera "Carmen". Her artistic and choreographic flair enchanted the audience. Ona Carbonell had to settle for second place, once again, with a very involved piece of choreography about women's place in the world performed to James Brown's "It's a Man's Man's Man's World".

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In total, Russia made an almost clean sweep in artistic swimming at the 2019 World Championships, winning a total of nine gold medals in ten events, including the mixed duet for the first time. The only title that escaped their grasp was the competition's highlight, a new team event focusing on acrobatics that Russia had decided not to take part in. It would be very surprising if their domination does not continue in 2020 at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.