Artistic swimming events will run from 21-25 June at the Kraków-Małopolska 2023 European Games. The sport was last featured on the European Games programme in Baku 2015 but was then a junior-only competition.
This year and in front of a sold-out crowd in Oświęcim, artistic swimmers from 25 countries will compete across eight events. The event also serves as the biannual LEN European Artistic Swimming Championships.
Additionally, the 2023 European Games are a qualifier to the 2024 Olympic Games in the duet. The pair with the highest combined score (Duet Technical plus Duet Free) will earn a spot to Paris. Hence, the Duet Free final on 24 June will undoubtedly be the most exciting and significant one of the competition.
Some of the favorites for this duet quota include triplet sisters Anna-Maria and Eirini Alexandri of Austria, twins Maryna and Vladyslava Aleksiiva of Ukraine, Linda Cerruti and Lucrezia Ruggiero of Italy, and Alisa Ozhogina Ozhogin and Iris Tio Casas of Spain. All athletes are tremendously experienced and have won medals in the duet events throughout the World Aquatics World Cups this year. As the host, France has already qualified for the Olympics.
One pair that will look to challenge some of the favorites is Shelly Bobritsky and Ariel Nassee of Israel. They have already won two historical gold medals this season, including one in the Duet Free at the World Cup Super Final after performing the most difficult routine so far.
Three-time Olympian Evangelia Platanioti of Greece will be amongst the veterans of this competition. However, she will only appear in the Duet Technical alongside Sofia-Evangelia Malkogeorgou, and thus won’t be in contention for this Olympic quota.
The Mixed Duet events will appear on the European Games programme for the first time. Reigning World and European champions Giorgio Minisini and Lucrezia Ruggiero of Italy highlight the field. The two have yet to compete this year and will look forward to showing their choreographies.
Spain will also be a favorite for the Mixed Duet medals. Although eight-time European medalist Pau Ribes retired, the nation can count on Fernando Diaz del Rio Soto and Dennis Gonzalez Boneu to stay on the podium. Respectively paired with Emma Garcia Garcia and Mireia Hernandez Luna, they have helped Spain finish at the top of the World Cup circuit rankings in this event in 2023.
More medals will be up for grabs in four team events: Team Technical, Team Free, Acrobatic Routine, and Free Routine Combination. Ukraine is the reigning European Champion across all four and will certainly be a team to watch. The Ukrainians have been particularly successful this season in the Acrobatic Routine, winning gold across all three World Cups they participated in.
Fellow European medallists France, Italy and Greece will be teams to watch as well, especially the last two as they make their season debuts in these events in Oświęcim. Finally, Spain will return to the European stage after missing Roma 2022, focusing here on the Team Technical and Team Free.
Once again, Israel could be the team to upset the established European hierarchy. The nation has already won four medals across three World Cups this year, including one gold in the Team Free at the World Cup Super Final, clearly displaying a complete understanding of the new rules.
Indeed, artistic swimming has undergone a major change to its scoring system in 2023, moving towards an open-ended scoring scale.
Now, every routine has a set number of Elements that each country must do. Elements can be Acrobatics, Free Hybrids, and Technical Required Elements in the technical events. Each of these Elements has a Degree of Difficulty (DD) value.
Before each competition, coaches must send Coach Cards detailing each Element and its intended DD. When an Element is not executed as described on the Coach Card, it will not be credited its full DD, but rather a Base Mark value of 0.5, or 0.1 for pair acrobatics only. Synchronization mistakes are also now looked at independently and will be deduced from the final score.
In turn, the panels of judges have changed. They now comprise three Difficulty Technical Controllers, three Synchronization Technical Controllers, five Elements judges, and five Artistic Impression judges.
This new system was recently reviewed and modified. The III European Games will mark the first competition with the latest set of rules, in force as of 14 June, 2023.
By Christina Marmet / LEN