USA Senior Squad Continues to Raise the Bar in France
by Alyssa Jacobs, USA Artistic Swimming
While the senior national team has several fond memories at the France World Cup the past few years, this year’s performances might top them all. Competing across the technical duet, male technical solo, technical team and acrobatic categories, Team USA collected all top-5 finishes including two medals. Showcasing boldness and their continued pursuit of innovative excellence, the squad elevated the bar once again and showed the world their fight and spirit.
Perhaps the highlight of the weekend came in the technical team category, where USA revised the coach card before the deadline to drastically increase the difficulty as part of head coach Andrea Fuentes’ infamous ‘Friday challenge’ series. The changes meant that USA was set the attempt the hardest routine in the category going up against Asian and European powerhouses like China, Japan, Ukraine and Spain. The risk paid off, as USA slipped past Ukraine to take the last spot on the podium with a massive 316.7834.
A similar method was used for technical duet, as the coaching staff challenged young Megumi Field and Calista Liu to increase their difficulty in the largest category of the weekend as well. Working intimately with assistant coach Hiea Yoon-Kang to refine the technical execution, the two stepped it up when it mattered and executed a routine without any base mark penalties. They ended in fourth place, just missing the podium behind China, Japan and Austria and ahead of France, Great Britain and Spain.
Kenny Gaudet notched a fifth-place finish in his first outing of the year. While he executed a strong performance in the male technical solo category, he ultimately received several base marks that decreased his score and kept him out of medal contention.
Finally, in the acrobatic routine, a clean execution by USA coupled with an error from China led the stars and stripes to a silver medal and the best placement of the weekend. Many countries opted to increase their difficulty from the Markham World Cup while assistant coach Anna Voloshyna elected to stick with USA's already difficult lift declarations. The score marks a nearly 50-point increase from Canada thanks to improvement in execution consistency. With a 252.0000, the acrobatic team ended 8 points behind Ukraine and 5 points ahead of China.
As more countries figure out what strategy works best for their team and what level of difficulty the athletes can handle, the anticipation for the 2023 World Championships and Pan American Games is as high as ever. The final World Cup that USA will participate in served as great preparation for the upcoming, and high stakes, championships this summer. The bold strategy chosen by the coaching staff and the buy-in from the team is yielding excellent results pointing to a bright future for USA. Full results from the weekend can be viewed on the World Aquatics event website HERE.