Top synchronized swimmers to watch in Rio
Russia's synchronized swimming duets and teams won every available Olympic gold medal this century. Here are five teams to watch in both disciplines at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Mariya Koroleva and Anita Alvarez will be the United States’ only representatives in synchronized swimming at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Koroleva will be looking to improve upon her 11th-place finish at the 2012 Olympics in the duet discipline, while Alvarez makes her first Olympic appearance. The pair has so far had a successful season, winning gold and silver medals at the China Open and bronze medals at the German and French Opens. The U.S. did not qualify an eight-member synchronized swimming team.
Svetlana Romashina and Natalia Ishchenko star as the Russian synchronized swimming duet as well as lead the team event. Together, they’ve won 2008 team event gold and 2012 team event and duet golds. They are poised to tie the record for most synchronized swimming gold medals won (five) with fellow Russian Anastasia Davydova if they win the duet and team events again, as they are heavily favored to do.
Spain’s Ona Carbonell and Gemma Mengual make up Spain’s 2016 Olympic synchronized swimming duet. Carbonell owns two Olympic medals from 2012, while Mengual competed in 2000, 2004 and 2008 before entering a brief retirement. Mengual, 39 years old with two silver medals from 2012 to her name, comes back the Olympic stage for another shot at gold. Shockingly, Spain did not qualify for the team event despite winning bronze at the 2012 Games.
Huang Xuechen and Sun Wenyan of China won two duet silver medals at the 2015 World Championships behind powerhouse Russia. At the 2012 Olympics, Huang won China’s first ever duet medal (a bronze) with then-partner Liu Ou. Huang and Sun were also part of the silver medal-winning team event at the 2012 Games, where they’ll look to improve in Rio.
Ukraine, who has been steadily improving in synchronized swimming at the Olympics, will send both a duet and a team to Rio. In 2004, Ukraine’s team was 11th; in 2008, the team finished eighth; and in 2012 the team finished sixth. Plus, at the 2015 World Championships, Lolita Ananasova and Anna Voloshyna earned a bronze medal for their duet free program. Ananasova and Voloshyna will aim to land on the duet podium at the 2016 Rio Games.