Source: USA Synchro

Adding difficulty to their routine and executing it on the highest stage helped the U.S. duet of Anita Alvarez and Mariya Koroleva place ninth Sunday in the preliminary free routine at the Rio Olympic Games.

Alvarez and Koroleva scored 86.4333 points swimming to the theme “Fury,” featuring songs by Brand X Music. They scored 25.6000 in execution, 34.5333 in artistic impression and 26.3000 for difficulty.

“In the last couple of months we’ve definitely added a lot more difficulty to our routines, but with adding difficulty you’ve also got to work on executing the more difficult program,” Koroleva said. “So I think we’ve really improved in that area, and obviously it’s showing in our score.”

U.S. National Team Coach Lolli Montico was all smiles while talking with the press immediately after they competed in the 22nd spot, saying she was pleased with the duet’s execution.

“They performed really well. Their routine is really difficult, very difficult. We played on the difficulties because we really want a higher score,” she said. “Although there are minor things that we can fix before the final, they sold it very well to the judges, and I liked the way they attacked it. I’m really pleased.”

Russia’s Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina were in first place with 98.0667 points, followed by China’s Xuechen Huang and Wenyan Sun with 96.0667 points. Japan’s Yukiko Inui and Risako Mitsui were third at 94.4000.

Alvarez and Koroleva were right ahead of Greece (86.1000), Mexico (85.7333) and Austria (85.2667). The U.S. duet placed behind Greece and Mexico in duet free at the 2015 FINA World Championships.

“Last summer at the World Championships, in our free program, we were ranked 12th. So moving up three spots is a lot to move up in one year,” Koroleva said. “We’re really, really happy.”

Alvarez, making her Olympic debut, admitted feeling a little nervous before they walked on the deck.

“It was really scary at first. Being back there before we went out I was thinking positive thoughts, ‘It’s just another swim,’” she said. “But then I would think, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the Olympics.’ I had help from Mariya, and the coaches helped me stay calm back there. It felt just like another swim, which is good.

“And once we finished and I got to look around and actually look in the audience, it sort of hit me: ‘This is the Olympics’ and it made it that much more exciting.”

The preliminary technical routine is set for Monday, with Alvarez and Koroleva competing in the No. 20 spot. The free final will be Tuesday. The sum of the preliminary free and tech duet points determines the 12 duets that will advance to the final.

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Source: USA Synchro

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