Magic of the mermaids
Russia doubled up synchro golds and Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina produced a women’s duet which was truly a class above the rest. In diving, Tania Cagnotto clinched her 18th European title and the 7th in the 1m, while Tom Daley and Grace Reid delivered the first gold for the hosts in the historic first mixed 3m event.
Synchronised swimming was lifted to a different level in the afternoon by the magical duet of Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina. The new routine of the Russian pair, created for the Olympics, was simply breathtaking – especially for them, as this new choreography requires a hellish amount of withheld breath as they move at a rate apart from any of the other duets. Even compared with their own previous wonders, as Romashina admitted, this was by far the most demanding, most difficult routine they have ever had to show. Still, it was a beauty to watch, their dynamism, the pace of their moves – it was all really worthy of the mermaids they have wished to recall in all their performances in the past years. Just as in the synchro events on the first two days, Ukraine clinched the silver and the Italians earned the bronze.
Things changed slightly, however, in the mixed duet’s premiere at the European Championships. The Russian win was never in danger here either, despite world champion Aleksandr Maltsev showing up with a new partner, Mikhaela Kalancha, who joined him last autumn, soon after Kazan. Italy’s silver wasn’t surprising as Giorgio Minisini and Mariangela Perrupato were already the second-best European duet in Kazan. And the bronze went to the Spaniards, Pau Ribes and Berta Ferreras, a fine feat as well since they also form a new pair (comeback queen Gemma Mengual, who swam with Ribes at the 2015 Worlds, is now preparing for the Olympics).
In diving the first 1-2 finish of the championships was witnessed, courtesy of Tania Cagnotto and Elena Bertocchi. Cagnotto had to dig deep after her modest second attempt which dropped her to the 6th place. But the reigning world champion proved her quality, came up with a series of fine dives, took the lead in the penultimate round and managed to keep it to the end, even though only a tiny margin of 2.85 points separated her form team-mate Bertocchi while Russia’s Nadezhda Bazhina finished third (also ahead of fellow Russian Kristina Ilinykh). Cagnotto was the only one to produce two 60+ points dives, including the best of the evening (63.70) in the fourth round. This was the Italian diva’s 7th win in this event and her 18th European title since her debut in 2002.
She was back for more as the tight schedule required a handful of divers to stay on the boards for the inaugural 3m mixed event. And Cagnotto added a silver to her tally in a really thrilling competition (she dived with Maicol Verzotto). The lead changed after almost each round, the Russians, the Italians and the Brits topped the classification in succession but at the end the hosts clinched the historic first win.
Grace Reid – finishing 7th in the 1m event just minutes earlier – teamed up with Tom Daley who showed his unique skills and delivered a series of brilliant dives from the 3m springboard (with a couple of 8.5s and 9.0s in the mix) even though he usually excels in the platform. Credits also go to Russia’s Nadezhda Bazina who earned her second bronze in the evening, this time with Nikita Shleikher.
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