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Top synchronized swimming stories to watch in Rio

Svetlana Romashina and Natalia Ishchenko
© 2012 / Comité International Olympique (CIO) / HUET, John

Top synchronized swimming stories to watch in Rio

What to look for in synchronized swimming at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Here are the five storylines to be mindful of during synchronized swimming at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Svetlana Romashina and Natalia Ishchenko vying to tie most Olympic golds

Russia’s Svetlana Romashina and Natalia Ishchenko own nearly 40 world championships medals between them and are poised to tie the record for most Olympic gold medals won by synchronized swimmers. Currently, Anastasia Davydova of Russia stands alone with five, but as Romashina and Ishchenko are heavily favored to win their fourth and fifth golds in Rio, they could become members of that club, too.

Ukraine’s steady rise

Ukraine has impressed lately, improving from 11th in the team event in 2004 to eighth in 2008 and sixth in 2012. Similarly, the duet from Ukraine earned a bronze medal for their duet free program at the 2015 World Championships. Look for Ukraine’s duet, Lolita Ananasova and Anna Voloshyna, to continue progressing at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Countries capitalizing on Spain’s absence in the team event

Spain shockingly did not qualify a full team (only a duet) for the 2016 Rio Olympics after winning a bronze in the discipline in London. Instead, teams from China and Japan will look to capitalize in their absence by landing on the podium. China earned silver in 2012 while Japan’s team was fifth in London. Even Ukraine could amaze the judges enough to earn a team Olympic medal.

Gemma Mengual returns

Despite Spain’s missing out in the team event, the Spanish duet is made of two stars: Ona Carbonell and Gemma Mengual. Mengual, 39 years old, returns to Rio after a five-year retirement. She competed at the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympics and owns two silvers (duet, team) from Beijing. Carbonell came away from London with two medals: a duet silver and a team bronze. Though they were never together on the Olympic stage before Rio, the duet proved their chemistry by winning the duet portion at the 2016 Synchro America Open in Riverside, California in July.

United States looking to crack top 10

The last time a United States duet was on the podium at an Olympics was 2004, when the pair won a bronze medal. Mariya Koroleva makes her second appearance on the Olympic stage, this time joined by rookie Anita Alvarez. Koroleva finished 11th in London with a former partner, while Koroleva and Alvarez’s best finish at the 2015 World Championships was also 11th.

Synchronized swimming 101

Learn more about synchronized swimming:

Basics | Body positions and movements | Competition format | Equipment | Glossary | Olympic history | Scoring system | Venue

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