USA Wows at Youth and Junior International Open
by Alyssa Jacobs, USA Artistic Swimming
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - USA Artistic Swimming wrapped up an incredibly successful International Open in partnership with UANA presented by Fluidra last week in Clearwater, Fla. The event saw participation all seven continents, either virtually or in person. Even with the challenges of COVID-19 and travel, the event was an opportunity for the youth and junior athletes to showcase their skills in the pool once again.
The 13-15 national team was represented in the youth category by a mixed duet, two duets, one female solo, one male solo and a team routine after just five weeks of training together. Additionally, the whole squad competed in the figure competition. In figures, USA took places 1-10 with Ayla Barry, Janneke Dirven and Kennah Burdette taking the top three spots. Burdette and Michael Chan paired for an exciting mixed duet adapted from a previous senior routine performed by Bill May and Natalia Vega. The duet of Danielle Ovadia and Dirven edged out Elle Santana and Emileen Moore by just .1 to take first in the duet category. Ayla Barry, the figure champion, represented USA in the solo category and took first with an exquisite routine and a score of 74.1667. The team routine was a highlight of the weekend. Coaches Ludi Perrin and Hiea-Yoon Kang had the challenge of a adapting a collegiate-level routine previously performed by the Ohio State Buckeyes for the 13-15 national team. The advanced athletes rose to the occasion and executed a beautiful bird-themed routine, taking first and earning a 77.0333. Athletes who swam the team routine include Barry, Dirven, Elizabeth Fullen, Audrey Kwon, Moore, Santana, Karen Xue and Ovadia.
The junior national team also wowed at the competition, representing in the tech team, highlight, combo, mixed duet, tech duet, free solo and tech solo. Elisa Brunel was selected as the technical soloist, debuting a stunning routine and earning third place in the category behind Mexico and a virtual submission from Brazil. Megumi Field, dual-team member who spent the last year training with the senior national team, impressed the audience with her free solo, taking gold in the category with an 81.3250. Kenny Gaudet made his national team debut alongside Ivy Davis in the mixed duet tech category and took first as well. The newly-assembled junior national team also managed to produce three impressive team routines in the tech team, highlight and combo categories. The tech team was the same routine the senior national team debuted at the Olympic qualifier in June. The junior cohort did an incredible job with the choreography, but ultimately took second by the miraculously small margin of .002. Similarly, Field and Anya Melson paired together to compete the same tech duet that Anita Alvarez and Lindi Schroeder competed during this year’s circuit and at the Tokyo Olympics, taking first and undoubtedly making their senior counterparts proud. The Elvis-themed highlight routine and Marionette doll-themed combo routine both topped the categories as well. Athletes represented in the routines include, Brunel, Field, Melson, Gaudet, Davis, Yujin Chang, Claudia Coletti, Emily Ding, Keana Hunter, Ashley Latchford, Atira O’Neil and Juliana Silva. They were coached by Anna Voloshyna, Lara Teixeira and Megan Azebu.
Athletes from across the world impressed the assembled panels of judges and proved there is a bright future ahead for artistic swimming. The Long Center served as a great host for the event as athlete, spectators, coaches and judges left with smiling faces, happy to be back at an international meet once again. Full results from the meet can be found HERE and the archive of livestream videos can be found HERE.