Source: USA Synchro

Team USA’s Anita Alvarez and Mariya Koroleva posted their highest scores of the year on the biggest stage Tuesday, giving U.S. synchronized swimming a boost for the future.

The pair placed ninth in the duet free final Tuesday to finish ninth overall in duet at the Rio Olympic Games.

Alvarez and Koroleva scored 87.5333 points in the final. Combined with their 86.4612 points in Monday’s tech routine, they finished with 173.9945 points.

“It’s definitely our highest score ever, by a lot,” Koroleva, a two-time Olympian, said. “In the last year we’ve moved up three spots, which is kind of unheard of in synchro, to do that in one year. So we’re really proud of ourselves and happy with the way everything went.”

Russia’s Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina scored 98.5333 points in the final to win gold with 194.9910 total points. China’s Xuechen Huang and Wenyan Sun(192.3688) took silver and Japan’s Yukiko Inui and Risako Mitsui (188.0547) won bronze.

“We’re really happy. It was a great performance; they gave everything,” U.S. National Team Coach Lolli Montico said. “They didn’t leave anything in the pool. They showed everybody that they can do even better.”

The increase in the difficulty of the duet’s routines made a big difference, according to the swimmers.

“We noticed our difficulty scores for this swim were all 8.9s, which is really, really good, and we’re really happy with that,” Alvarez said.

Added Koroleva: “In the last couple of months, after every competition, we tried to increase our difficulty. But by adding difficulty you also have to be able to execute it well, so you have to be high, really sharp and synchronized. And I think it’s worked out really well.”

The U.S. duet finished ahead of Greece (171.8550) and Mexico (170.9935), two teams they placed behind at the 2015 FINA World Championships.

“The points are much higher than we’ve had in the past, and we created a big gap with the people behind us,” USA Synchro CEO Myriam Glez said. “These were by far their highest scores this year. That’s when they’re supposed to peak, at the Olympics.”

Final standings:

1. Russia, 194.9910

2. China, 192.3688

3. Japan, 188.0547

4. Ukraine, 187.1358

5. Spain, 186.6357

6. Italy, 182.8079

7. Canada, 179.8916

8. France, 174.2491

9. USA, 173.9945

10 Greece, 171.8550

11. Mexico, 170.9935

12. Austria, 170.5970

Source: USA Synchro

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