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Photo Credit: Antoine Saito/Canada Artistic Swimming

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Markham, March 16, 2023 –  History was made at the Markham Pan Am Centre as the first athletes competed under a completely new scoring system for artistic swimming. In the first event of the 2023 World Aquatics Swimming World Cup season, over 200 athletes from 23 different countries are competing at the Markham World Cup, hosted by Canada Artistic Swimming. It is the largest international event to be held in the pool at the facility since it was a host venue for the 2015 Pan American Games.

The FINA (now World Aquatics) Innovation Committee started the process to develop a new scoring system in 2017, with the goal to make the sport more in alignment with other judged sports. Each competitor/team now builds the routine around the required technical elements and also receive marks for artistic impression and execution.

As the system made its debut in Markham, the first swimmer in the pool was Kyra HOEVERTSZ, who represents Aruba, competing in the Women Solo Technical. She was proud to make her mark in the sport, as she received the first-ever score. “Of course you’re already nervous as it is, and then you’re the first athlete from World Aquatics ever to test out the new system. It made me happy that it was me, from a small island in the Caribbean, Aruba, to be the first.”

The first gold medal under the new system went to Marta FIEDINA (21) from Ukraine for the Women Solo Technical . Her score of 245.2917 placed her just ahead of the 32-year old veteran from Japan, Yukiko INUI who scored 242.7917. Fiedina said she had developed her program to show what she understood of the new rules and was thrilled with the result. “This competition is very important for us because it is new rules and new scoring. Now every athlete must build in difficulty. It’s very important to think about what you do.

Inui is a multiple medalist in artistic swimming, including a Duet bronze from the 2016 Olympic Games and is the reigning World Aquatics Champion in the Female Solo Technical and Free events. Inui looks “forward to working with her coach to develop her program even further as the season progresses.

Rounding out the podium was Canada’s Audrey LAMOTHE with a score of 196.2833. The 18-year old was excited to compete in front of her family and friends and to bring home a medal for Canada. “It gave me lot of power and energy knowing the crowd was there for me.” She was also pleased to see the new scoring system implemented. “I think our sport will be better and grow as a result.

The Men’s Technical Solo was won by 18-year old Dennis GONZALEZ BONEU from Spain who loves water and dance and has been swimming for seven years. “I was quite nervous about the new system and making sure I did everything as I had planned. I wanted to swim with a lot of energy and passion.

His score of 192.1417 placed him ahead of Eduard KIM, the 17-year old from Kazakhstan. “Artistic Swimming is a beautiful sport,” he said, and he worked on his difficulty in preparation for this season. Winning the bronze medal was the oldest competitor, who has been swimming since 2000, Renaud BARRAL, a 34-year old from Belgium who scored 130.0708. He was the first male competitor to swim, and said afterwards, “I’m feeling very grateful and blessed that I have the chance to do this because I was here for a long time and when I was a kid there was no chance for me. Even if I am a bit old compared to my competitors I can be here and be part of it.

There were no Canadian entries in the men’s field.

In the Women Team Technical event, five countries vied for the podium, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, and the USA. The gold medal went to Japan, followed by the USA and Israel claimed the bronze. Megumi YOSHIDA from Japan said the team had been “having fun getting used to the new artistic swimming system, and this was a good start to the season for their team.” In preparing for the competition, Daniella RODRIGUEZ from the USA said they “decided to push our creativity and think about how we can use this new basemark type of routine in team to really push our boundaries. We felt strong and powerful tonight.” Team Israel achieved its goal of claiming the bronze. According to Shelly BOBRITSKY they “did some deep research and tried to find some interesting movement which lead to the innovative segments in their ‘Bird’ routine.”

Team Canada finished in fourth position. Kenzie PRIDDELL said, “we are really coming together as a team. We came out proud and prepared. It was so empowering to see our family and friends here (cheering) and to see all the supporters carrying the Canadian flag.

Team Australia had the honour of being the first team to compete under the system. Georgia COURAGE-GARDINER admitted that the scoring system is a big change for everyone, and that their group was “really excited to show what we’ve been working on and to how we’ve progressed.

Competition continues at the Markham Pan Centre on Friday and Saturday, with sell-out crowds expected. 


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