Senior Team to Take French Open Stage

by Alyssa Jacobs, USA Artistic Swimming

The senior national team has arrived in Paris to participate in the second leg of the 2022 FINA Artistic Swimming World Series. The squad has participated in several days of training, including a first day at INSEP thanks to the hospitality of the French national team, to prepare for their first international trip of the season. Prior to leaving for Europe, they made a stop in Columbus at the Collegiate Championship and wowed fans with their impressive performances.  
Friday, April 1st will open competition for the event and USA is set to participate in the duet free competition represented by Megumi Field and Natalia Vega. The pair first performed at the FINA Virtual World Series that aired in March, taking first in the category and securing an impressive finish for their debut together. They will be competing the same electronic dance routine in this event, but are extremely proud of the growth they have been able to achieve since the routine’s first showing. Other nations with competitors in the category include Israel, Portugal, Lichtenstein, Bulgaria, Denmark, Sweden, France, Finland, Serbia, Malta, San Marino, Chile, Greece, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Thailand, Austria and Slovakia.  

Natalia Vega said the duet has been working hard together: "Before the virtual meet Megumi and I only had one week to prepare together due to some injuries but since then we've been working really hard to improve our matching as a duet pair. We feel much more comfortable with the routine and confident in the growth we will show from last competition."
On Saturday, April 2nd  the team will compete its Highlight routine, this time with Kenny Gaudet included in the roster as he was injured during the filming of the Virtual World Series. He will swim with Elisa Brunel, Yujin Chang, Claudia Coletti, Jaime Czarkowski, Ivy Davis, Emily Ding, Keana Hunter, Daniella Ramirez and Natalia Vega to compete their caveman-themed routine that features several impressive highlights and innovative choreography by Anna Voloshyna. Other nations competing in the category include Canada, Thailand, Chile and Israel. USA competed against Canada at the virtual stop and outscored the northern nation by 1.6.  

Sunday, April 3rd will be the busiest day on the schedule, featuring the Mixed Duet Tech, Team Tech and Mixed Duet Free competition. 2021 Junior Pan American Game Champions Davis and Gaudet will pair for mixed duet and Coletti will make her mixed duet debut alongside Kenny for free.  
The free mixed duet is swam to the tune of Eminem, an unconventional music choice yet one that suits the pair well, and the tech mixed duet is Anime-themed inspired by the original World Championship location of Japan. Both music selections were led by the athletes and brought out the athletes’ passion for the music and sport. It will be the first time competing both new choreographies. The senior pairs will compete against Spain, Italy, Colombia, Thailand and Puerto Rico to keep USA’s tradition of strong mixed duets going.  
Changing from junior routines to senior level forced us to think of different movements and increase the difficulty with our coaches, so we are luck to have such experienced and creative leaders. Colombia was my first big competition and bringing home the gold was really exciting and boosted our excitement to swim on even bigger stages as seniors,” Kenny Gaudet said.  
Tech team is sure to be a highlight of the weekend, as the Michael Jackson-themed routine is upbeat and emulates Jackson’s iconic dance style and mannerisms. Andrea Fuentes’ artistic choreography shines in the routine, taking inspiration from the Vegas show the team saw together last summer as well as several dance choreographers. Israel, Chile, Canada, France and Thailand will also compete in the category. Brunel, Chang, Czarkowski, Davis, Field, Hunter, Ramirez and Vega will swim the routine.  

"We are very excited to show our new tech team routine. Since we've arrived in Paris, we have received such positive feedback from the countries and everyone seems to really love it. Today, we did our last music practice and I'm so proud of our team. They have improved every day. I love how they are mastering the balance of keeping the fire and maintaining a calm and confident mind," Andrea Fuentes said. 

You can find all the information for the meet, including live stream links and schedules, on FINA's website HERE

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