The third day of artistic swimming at the III European Games was filled with history-making and record-breaking moments. In the Team Free Routine Combination, Israel won its first-ever European gold, and second European team medal overall, while the squads of Germany and Türkiye marked the sport in their own ways.
In the afternoon, Spain became European Champion in the Team Technical, winning its first gold in a team event for the first time since 2012. Italy and France completed the podium, successfully defending their medals from the last European Championships in Roma.
TEAM FREE ROUTINE COMBINATION FINAL
Only three countries participated in the Team Free Routine Combination final. None of the medallists from Roma 2022 competed in the event, thus opening the door for different teams to stand on the podium.
The Team Free Routine Combination is not part of the official World Aquatics nor Olympic Games programs in the senior category, so it is likely that many choose to not train it during the year. Hence, this was the first, and likely only time that these three nations performed these choreographies.
Swimming to the theme of “Modern Spanish Dance,” Israel became the European Champions with a score of 248.6083. The team had already shown this choreography in Roma where they had placed fifth. Obviously, it was adapted to the new artistic swimming rules, and successfully so as the squad was awarded its full Degree of Difficulty (DD) of 35.0 here in Oświęcim.
Germany earned the silver medal with a score of 163.3205 for its “Monster Party – Greetings from the Addams Family” routine. The athletes did receive three base marks and were only credited a DD of 15.755, but their engaging performance was enough to bring the country its first team medal since 1983.
This medal is also of great significance for Frithjof Seidel, who became the first male artistic swimmer to win a team medal at a senior European Championships.
Türkiye won the bronze with a score of 135.7999, swimming to the theme of “The Rhythm”. It is the first artistic swimming medal at the European Championships for the country.
GOLD – Israel – 240.6083
Shelly Bobritsky: “We were very focused before the competition as we knew we had a chance to win this event and that gave us huge motivation. We were really determined, felt the energy in the water so I think our swim was quite good. We wanted to catch the judges’ eyes, do our best and we just did that. It was so nice to hear our national anthem played at the end.
The new system gives the opportunity for countries who were lower on the scale for many years. Now nothing is certain, everyone can fall down or rise high, and that’s really good for the sport.”
SILVER – Germany – 163.3205
Marlene Bojer: “For Germany, it was great to be in this event as a team; I don’t know when it happened for the last time. We are happy with our performance, and also felt the energy in the water. All in all, it’s a fun team, we enjoy swimming together. We know we received base marks, so that doesn’t feel right but at the end of the day I’m proud of the team and the girls.”
“In this new system, the performance on the given day is the most important and it’s no longer important what you did in the previous years. That gives huge motivation for all the countries.”
Frithjof Seidel: “I know that now I’m the first male swimmer to win a medal in a team event and this is great. I also feel honoured to have this silver. This is not about me of course, but first of all about German artistic swimming. It’s great that we are on the podium. When the coaches told me that I would be in the team, not just in the mixed duet, it was great news. Though, I knew that I had to work even harder as I still had many shortcomings, and many details I needed to improve. So, in this routine I’m doing the lifts mainly, which is fine, and less artistic part which is where I have to develop a lot in the coming years.”
Bronze – Türkiye – 135.7999
Ece Ungor: “I was shaking… This is the first time Türkiye has won an international medal. We tried to do our best, we were already really excited before the competition as we knew we could get a medal. We put our focus on our legwork to avoid base marks – we still got a few but that pushes us to learn from our mistakes and work harder on all elements. We tried to give joy to the judges and the audience, and we hope to be better next time.”
“This new scoring system gives a lot more opportunity for everyone, presses us to work harder and we are more excited at practices too as we knew we could have a chance, like everyone else.”
TEAM TECHNICAL FINAL
In the afternoon, Spain won the European Championships in the Team Technical event with a score of 278.4066. The nation had the highest declared DD of the entire field, with a 38.15, and was ultimately the only one that could deliver a clean routine with no base marks.
The Spanish squad delighted the crowd in Oświęcim with their fast-paced and engaging Flamenco choreography, using a fusion of Spanish and Japanese music. It was undoubtedly a sensational comeback to the European stage for the Spaniards, who did not compete in the team events in 2022.
The teams of Italy and France successfully defended their silver and bronze medals, respectively. The Italians had not competed yet this season and unveiled a new choreography to the theme of “The Fire.” They scored 249.1145 with one base mark.
The French also received a base mark, but it didn’t stop them from winning bronze again with a 229.3417. Their routine portrayed the journey of the body in space, from take-off to weightlessness to the return to Earth. This choreography was inspired by French astronaut Thomas Pesquet, whom the athletes met last fall.
Unfortunately Ukraine, the defending European Champions, finished in fifth place with 203.7697. Despite earning the second-best artistic impression score of the evening, the Ukrainians had three unforgiving base marks and couldn’t contend for a medal this time.
GOLD – Spain – 278.4066
Meritxell Mas Pujadas: “We are really happy to win this medal, but the championships are not over. We have to stay focused as we want something similar in the team free final. There is a lot of work behind this gold, not just this year but during many more years. We are proud but every competition is different, and we have to work till the last moment.”
“In this new era, a different type of work is required, but now you can dream of a medal a lot more. But, at the same time, if you fail, you can drop to the last place from the first. This is a new world, but it’s like water polo; you have to go in, compete, and fight since if you don’t, you’ll never get any result.”
SILVER – Italy – 249.1145
Enrica Piccoli: “We are very happy with this result, especially in this year of change. We also had a last-minute substitution for this final, so this result is brilliant and we are all proud and happy about the second place. We made some mistakes, but we can avoid those hopefully in the next competition at the World Championships. We had one basemark, so I think this is fine for us now.”
“This is a different way to prepare for the big events. There are new worries, you are afraid of things in a different way than before, but you have to get used to that and be confident before the routine.”
BRONZE – France – 242.6716
Charlotte Tremble: “We are very proud of this medal, and also very happy to receive only one basemark. We were focused, we know we can do better but we are still satisfied with what we achieved today.”
“It’s a new era for sure. It shows another side of artistic swimming, and now everyone should be ready for another way to work every day, even during competitions.”
The competition ramps up tomorrow with the Acrobatic Team Final at 10:00, the Duet Free Final at 17:00 and the Mixed Duet Free Final at 20:00. One duet will earn a place at the 2024 Olympic Games at the conclusion of the Duet Free final.
By Christina Marmet / LEN