Junior Team Competes at 2022 Junior World Championships
by Alyssa Jacobs, USA Artistic Swimming
The USA Junior National Team’s Junior World Championships experience was cut short last week due to a COVID outbreak within the team and an injury that left the squad unable to compete. Still, before the unforeseen circumstances, the athletes competed across five categories and represented our country extremely well.
USA kicked off the competition in Quebec in the male technical solo category. All technical events at the FINA Junior World Championships were finals-only, so the athletes had one shot to give their best execution. Kenny Gaudet competed his routine from the 2022 Super Final and was awarded a fifth-place finish. He scored a 78.3625 which placed him just narrowly behind Mexico’s Diego Villalobos Carrillo. The junior team took on the challenge of competing the senior squad’s technical routine to ‘Smooth Criminal’. They ended in sixth place and USA was edged by Canada in the category by under a point. The two countries tied in execution scores but the difference was the figure category. For the first time, Keana Hunter and Guadet paired in the mixed duet technical category, performing the same routine as the 2022 senior season. Their choreography to Eminem was especially complementary and they also ended in fifth place. European powerhouses topped the podium, but USA was the top Pan American nation in the category. To close out the technical portion, Audrey Kwon and Calista Liu performed their duet from 2022 domestic competitions and scored an 80.9161 to take seventh place. Again, Canada and USA were extremely close in the finishes for this division with the northern country finding an edge in the impression category. USA scored higher in figures in the duet technical competition and tied for execution, with final scores for the two countries ending just .3 apart.
In free, the team was only able to compete in two categories due to the medical incidents. Gaudet once again competed his solo from the 2022 Super Final of the senior circuit choreographed by Anna Voloshyna. He completed his trifecta of fifth place finishes in the event with a 77.9. Ella Rau of Arizona and Elisa Brunel from Texas competed together for the first time in free duet, utilizing the senior electronic dance choreography and closed out the competition with a tenth-place finish. While their close competitors in the free duet competition increased their scores from the preliminary round, USA executed better in the preliminary portion and fell one standing.
The group was also set to compete in the free team category utilizing the spider routine choreography from Stanford University. Unfortunately, the COVID cases and injury all seemed to reveal themselves at once and their journey was cut short. Fans can watch the replays of the competition on FINA’s YouTube channel HERE.
Many of the junior athletes will continue in the national team program by holding places on the senior national team where they will blend talents with the senior athletes. You can follow their next steps on our website and social media as the squad begins the season with a new scoring system, exciting changes and a packed calendar ahead.