USA Kicks off 2023 Competition in Canada

by Alyssa Jacobs, USA Artistic Swimming

The senior national team will make the squad’s 2023 international competition debut this weekend in Markham, Canada from March 16-18. The Canada World Cup will be the first World Aquatics event to operate within the new scoring system that will revolutionize the way the sport is judged. With a higher risk, higher reward focus, the new system grants more points for building routines with increased level of difficulty but only if that difficulty is executed. If the difficulty declared prior to competition is not achieved, routines risk losing massive amounts of points. The system could shake up international rankings significantly now that consistency is more important than ever. USA will be looking to capitalize on the opportunity to showcase the meticulous planning and endless hours of practice coaches and athletes have put in during the offseason.

The stars and stripes roster is perhaps one of the most seasoned senior units our country has had in recent memory. Of those swimming in Canada, just two athletes are swimming in international senior competition for the first time. While Calista Liu and Audrey Kwon will make their senior debut this weekend, they previously represented the country at Junior World Championships. Eleven athletes have senior World Championship experience, and nine athletes are over the age of 20.

The original plan was to compete in the technical male solo and mixed duet categories as well, but an unfortunate concussion will move back the 2023 reveals of these routines. Nevertheless, the U.S. looks forward to showcasing a redesigned technical team and brand-new technical duet and acrobatic routine. With the addition of the acrobatic routine in the Olympic program, it will be crucial to refine this program throughout the season and gain confidence in repetition of high-flying and difficult lifts.

For the first time, Megumi Field will pair with Liu in female duet. Megumi had her breakout senior season during the 2022 competition circuit, swimming in both the technical and free duet categories for USA all season. Her growth and talent as an athlete have earned her top marks on the team and she secured the duet spot again this season. Liu joins the team from her California club where she was a standout duet athlete and pairs well with Field.

The choreography for the technical duet is brand-new this year, taking a quirky approach to the biblical story of Eve set to an upbeat pop song. Fans should look forward to watching another Andrea Fuentes-original in the pool in Canada.

The first World Cup will be a huge test for this new pair as they compete in one of the largest categories of the weekend with 20 entries. Both 17 years old, Field and Liu are the fourth youngest in the field.

A crowd-favorite routine, the senior team spent the offseason completely reworking the Michael Jackson technical team routine to maximize scoring opportunity within the new system. Packed with difficult hybrids, the team has been working tirelessly to balance the difficulty and consistency as a team and Canada will be the first big test.

Two of the eight athletes will put on the MJ suit for the first time in Canada. Jacklyn Luu rejoined the national team this season having previously represented the U.S. at earlier World Championships and Anita Alvarez spent last season focusing on competing other routines and recovering from her foot injury. All other technical team athletes have swam an adaptation of the routine at least once before.

The competition in this category will be against Japan, Canada, Australia and Israel. Particularly important will be how the scores shake out against Canada, giving indication of where each country stands at the first stop to Pan American qualification, but also against Israel who proved themselves during last year’s competition circuit.

The brand-new acrobatic routine, previously called highlight routine, is based on amazons. The team was inspired by their power, fearlessness and courage. The choreography was created with the myth of Hippolytle’s Belt in mind, but with a creative twist, and assistant coach Anna Voloshyna took the lead in the creation. You can read more about the specific story and the adaptation the team took with its choreography on Anna’s Instagram HERE.

Seven of the eight athletes are national team returners, and Kwon makes an interesting, and high-flying, addition to the USA acrobatic roster. The team has been working tirelessly with acrobatics coach Victor Cano and within their strength program to deliver a routine with difficulty and creativity that is sure to wow.

Seven total entries make up this category in Canada. Ukraine, Japan, Spain, Canada, Israel and Australia will give the U.S. our first big test of the season in the acrobatic category.

All information about the event can be found on the World Aquatics website HERE.

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