The Urban Legend

The School Newspaper of Urban School of San Francisco

The Urban Legend

The School Newspaper of Urban School of San Francisco

The Urban Legend

The path to Paris 2024

The United States’ comeback in artistic swimming
Illustration credit: Mari Flores.

At the 2023 Artistic Swimming World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, the United States women’s artistic swimming Senior National Team medaled in two out of three team events: acrobatic and team technical. These successes are indicative of a comeback for the U.S. Senior National Team. After failing to qualify for nearly two decades, they are now in the running to be a top competitor at the 2024 Olympics. 

In October 2022, World Aquatics, formerly the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA), altered the rules and scoring system for artistic swimming. This changes not only the way the sport is judged but also the strategy for competition. Prior to competition, coaches must calculate and declare the difficulty and elements in their team’s routine. 

If a swimmer fails to complete any of the declared elements, officials called technical controllers may award the whole team a zero for a section of their routine. With technical controllers paying close attention to inconsistencies, small errors such as being short just a few degrees in a twirl or spin can bring down a routine’s score significantly. 

Despite the new level of attention to detail, the U.S. Senior National Team’s international rankings have improved since the updates to the rules have been implemented.

In an interview with The Urban Legend, Lara Teixeira, high-performance manager and National Team coach of U.S. Senior Artistic Swimming, said, “I think having these competitive rules brings opportunity and advantage on our side. [They will help us perform] the best showing that we could ever imagine.”

However, the United States still has a long road to the Olympics. To qualify for the Olympics as one of ten nations competing in team events, the U.S. must place first in the team category at the Pan-American Games (PanAms) in Santiago, Chile this November. “The expectations are very high,” said Teixeira. 

If the team does not qualify at PanAms in November, they will have another opportunity to qualify next February at the 2024 World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

In order to win a medal in the team category, the U.S. will have to place highly in team free and technical, as well as acrobatic. 

Teixeira feels they will get there with hard work. “We have more time in the season to prepare and have the athletes ready to compete,” she said. “The ultimate goal is no breath, no break … and then to go accomplish [our goal] of participating in the team events at the Olympics.”

“I think a medal is always a result of [daily] success at the pool,” said Teixeira. “We put a lot of effort into developing the athletes — as human beings as well — in and out of the water. So I think medals [are] just the cherry on the cake.”

About the Contributor
Mari Flores, Staff Writer