USA Youth Team Ready for World Championships in Charlotte
by Alex Markley, USA Artistic Swimming Intern
Today the action in Charlotte begins as our 13-15 national team start competition at the 2022 FINA World Youth Artistic Swimming Championships. Fans will see USA compete across six categories with 13 athletes from seven clubs uniting to represent the stars and stripes.
This particular artistic swimming competition had its inaugural debut in 2019 in Samorin, Slovakia where the USA participated. Uniquely, the United States welcomes athletes from several different clubs to a ten-week training camp to prepare for competition rather than training together year-round. The fusion of talents and styles allows for an exciting mix and welcomes our nation’s most talented athletes to the national team program at a young age.
Due to COVID, this is only the second time the Youth World Championships will be hosted. Team USA is on the hunt to redeem themselves from their placements in 2019 and show continued improvement both against countries that our nation battles against for continental Olympic qualification as well as European and Asian talents.
Ayla Barry will be representing USA in the female soloist and female duet competitions. She is no stranger to the youth national team and represented USA at the UANA International Open last year. Michael Chan will serve as the male soloist. Both athletes earned high marks in national competitions this year. Barry pairs with fellow California athlete Karen Xue, another youth national team veteran, for duet while Chan will showcase continued improvement in the K-pop mixed duet, this time with Nevada athlete Jennifer Ryu.
The free team roster was competitive, with just eight athletes utilizing their routine excellence and technical figure standings to propel USA into the medal conversation. The preliminary roster consists of Barry, Xue, Ghizal Akbar, Viola Li, Mona Schwickert, Elizabeth Zakharov, Amy Wang and Sophia Shen. The athletes crafted a strong routine based off Ohio State University’s 2018 collegiate bird-themed choreography. Ryu, Akbar, Zakharov, Wang, Li, Schiwkcert, Shen, Sophia Tsives, Olivia Zhu and Chloe Davanti will swim free combination. Two coaches have led the team through intense summer practices to create a cohesive unit: Ludivine Perrin-Stsepaniuk and Olivia Zhang.
The week will be an exciting display of young talent and every point matters in a competition as fierce as this one. Figures will be crucial for placements and standings to determine who will take home the crown from Queen City