Team USA Ready for Next Challenge in Fukuoka
by Alyssa Jacobs, USA Artistic Swimming
The USA Senior National Team kicks off competition in Fukuoka for the 20th installment of the World Aquatics World Championships tomorrow. Anticipation is buzzing around the world for this meet, as it will be the largest competition hosted thus far with the new artistic swimming scoring system. The system, new for 2023, has already undergone adjustments since the World Cup and culminating Super Final hosted in June. In its new version, changes to degree of difficulty (DD) for free hybrids and factors for elements were adjusted to address concerns from some that the difficulty score was overtaking the sport. More specific nuances and alterations were also made and while it did not change the mission or strategy of the USA squad, the mental math of predicting what a competitor could score as well as directly comparing results from the World Cup circuit just got a little bit more difficult.
Nevertheless, specific numbers and predictions are almost impossible in the new system where consistency rules. Several historically strong countries have struggled to execute exactly what movements have been declared on their coach cards this season in the competition environment, leading to shocking upsets and high-stakes performances. Team USA has done a fantastic job of showcasing improvement in the new system, reducing base mark penalties drastically in just one month between the Canada and France World Cup stops and continuing to push the envelope in difficulty and artistic impression.
Kenny Gaudet will swim both male technical and free solo in Japan. It will be his first time competing free this season and he will face nine competitors. It will be Gaudet’s second time competing in the technical solo category, first making his season debut at the France World Cup. In his first outing, he received several base marks that made a large impact on his final standing. Gaudet will look to improve upon his first performance and show growth in Japan.
In both duet categories, young star Megumi Field will pair with collegiate standout and national team returner Ruby Remati. This is Megumi’s second season competing in the senior circuit as a duet representative having proven her competency and skill when paired with several older athletes last season. Ruby rejoined the national squad in May, but was a part of the ‘Robot’ squad that came within inches of Olympic Qualification in 2021. She also was a member of the duet squad during that period, stepping in for Anita Alvarez at the qualification tournament and serving as Olympic Duet alternate. Two years at college and several collegiate national titles later, Remati returned to the team to pursue her Olympic Dreams. They will compete in the technical duet category with the Eve-themed routine from this year and debut brand new free choreography also created by coach Andrea Fuentes. The competition in the duet divisions is steep, with 39 pairs entered in the technical category and 37 in free. Countries to look out for that performed well at the European Games just a few weeks ago include Austria, Netherlands, Greece, Ukraine, Great Britain and Israel.
The acrobatic, formerly highlight, category saw an increase in participation at this year's championships with its addition to the Olympic program. Nineteen countries will compete for a spot on the acrobatic podium. Notably, mixed duet World Champion Bill May will compete in this category with seven female teammates. He will not be the only male in the category, but his presence represents a huge step forward for inclusion with males being permitted to compete in the team category at all competitions, including the Olympics. Competition with continental rival Mexico will be interesting to watch in this category, as USA hasn’t had a chance to compete against the nation yet this season and Mexico is known for its strong acrobatics. However, USA has crafted an incredibly difficult and competitive routine and has proven consistency in execution thanks to help from acrobatics coach Victor Cano and the entire coaching staff.
To round out the team routines, the squad will compete the MJ technical routine against 22 nations. Additionally, they will unveil the 2023 version of the water-themed free routine. The free routine has been dramatically adapted from its first outing in Budapest last summer to fit the criteria of the new system and better suit the current team. Twenty nations are entered in the free category. Countries to watch include Spain, Italy, France, Israel and Ukraine as well as continental competitors Mexico and Canada.
For rosters for the team routines, visit our Instagram page.
More Resources & How to Watch
The duet free final and team free final will be streamed on NBC Sports. All other streaming information can be found on the World Aquatics event page and will be shared on our social media as it becomes available.
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