Olga Kamardina, FINA correspondent in Uzbekistan

For three days between 29 June and 1st July, the capital of Uzbekistan Tashkent will reverberate to the rhythms and energy of the artistic swimming. Like last year, the 2018 edition of the FINA World Artistic Swimming Series shall reach its height here, on the hospitable Mid-Asian land, featuring some 70 athletes of 6 nations. The usual set of events includes 10 event – 5 technical routines (Solo, Mixed Duet, Duet and Team) and 5 Free routines (Solo, Mixed Duet, Duet, Team, Combination and Highlight).
Read on to learn more on the decorated competitors to watch in Tashkent.

SOLO

Mexican Nuria Lindon Garcia Diosdado and Joana Garcia Jimenez shall be the main star attractions of the Solo Routines.

The 2016 Olympic finalist Diosdado was very successful in Greece, earning gold on her free program, 84.6333. Her teammate Jimenez finished atop in the Women Solo Technical, 82.9070. Both show a progressing swimming shape and will be determined to leave their challengers in Tashkent far behind.

Keep an eye on Olympian Nada Daabousova of Slovakia and local hope Khonzodakhon Tashkhudjaeva. Both registered their first and so far the only golds in Beijing. Daabousova finished atop of the Solo Technical on 78.1890, as the free portion got her trailing Tashkhudjaeva. “Uzbek Princess” (translated from the Uzbek language) sealed gold, scoring 81.9333 overall. Both swimmers were often seen in the season, however usually stopped at a distance to the best.

Footnote. The best wins in the 2018 FINA Artistic Swimming World Series were done by the 2-time world champion Russian Varvara Subbotina and 2 time Olympic and 6-time world bronze medalist Japanese Yukiko Inui. Every time they were in the contest, they irrevocably won on scores, which never dipped below 91 points. However, the season-best-evaluated swimmer has been another decorated Russian. At the inaugural leg of Paris, the 2016 Olympic champion and 13 times world champion Svetlana Kolesnichenko set the bar in the Free Solo at sky high 95.5000, whereas Subbotina matched her star teammate, registering 94.1509 for the Technical routine in Budapest on Leg #5. Some more winning names included Yelyzaveta Yakhno of Ukraine, Italian Linda Cerruti and Viviene Koch of Switzerland, all boasting a gold-double, however they will not be a part of the ultimate FINA Artistic Swimming World Series in Tashkent, giving more room for the new stars.

DUETS

The most decorated duo in Tashkent will be Karen Faride Achach Ramírez/ Nuria Lindón Diosdado García of Mexico. 2016 Olympic finalists, where they ranked 11th, were a hit in Greece before the trip to Asia. They grabbed two golds of Syros Island and now will be looking for another gold-haul. The scores of Leg #10 speak louder than words here to prove their ambitions. Local crowd favorites Eltisheva/Morozova and Slovakian Diana Miskechova/Nada Daabousova have been a part of the contest too, finishing 7th and 5th in the Technical and Free respective portions.
Footnote. It will be pretty hard for all competitors either to approach the high scoring of the inaugural FINA Artistic Swimming World Series in Paris, where Russian duo Kolesnichenko/Subbotina in Technical and Wang sisters of China in Free program overscored 94 and 92 points. Impossible will be to match the merits of the two-times Technical and Free Routine winners - Jiang sisters of China and Nakamaki/Inui of Japan, which also managed to improve the season’s best at 92.9333 for the free program in Surrey.

MIXED DUETS

It turns out that, the Mixed Duets gold medals are doomed reside in Asia. Olzhas Makhanbetuyarov teaming Sophia Lyakh represent Kazakhstan, Dinara Ibragimova/Vechislav Rudnev – are their closest geographical neighbors, come from Uzbekistan. First – were lucky to win silver in America, as their Uzbek challengers will take home floor for the international premiere. Young and ambitious they are all, getting ready for the 16th FINA World Junior Artistic Swimming Championships in Budapest, scheduled on later this July. As for the best scores of the season, they have been recorded early in March in Paris: Russian Maya Gurbanberdyeva partnering “FINA Best Male Artistic Swimmer 2017” Aleksandr Maltsev received 91.9333 on their free program, and Italian Giorgio Minisini/Manila Flamini climbed as high as 88.5930 on their technical routine. Noteworthy, that Italians posted 6 more wins in course of the season later on, but unfortunately will not be a part of our contest in Tashkent as they are getting ready for the European Championships in Glasgow, scheduled in August.

TEAM EVENTS

All team events will be a duel between Uzbekistan and Slovakia. A number of local clubs will enter their squads in the competition, but their scores will not count in the net.
Figures give favor to Slovakia possessing a full set of medals in the Team Highlight, to come along with silver in the Free Combination Routine. Host Uzbekistan got Highlight’s gold and two silvers, however at home they will be very encouraged, motivated and high-spirited to jump out of their minds.

Footnote. 5 other nations have been on top in course of the circuit, and Ukraine got more than the rest - 5 wins in the Free Combination and 4 in the Highlights, including their season-high score of Budapest, 93.1332 points. China topped the Free combination on 93.2667 points set in Beijing. The other gold winning nations in ASWS 2018 were Japanese and Spanish in combo, France - in the Highlight.
Team Free so far brought more fruits to the hosts, as they collected 2 bronze pieces of Beijing and Tokyo. Slovakia reached podium once, in the Team Technical, on Leg#2, and on Leg#4 in Samorin was stopped at a hand to the honors. So far the most celebrated nation has been Ukraine, as they swept away all technical and free titles on offer on Legs 7 and 8. China and Japan registered clear wins in Beijing and Tokyo as, Spain was a success in Madrid, and Mexico – in Syros Islands. The season-best scores have been produced by Russians, which finished atop of the Legs 1 and 5. In Budapest they amazed everyone, getting marvelous 97 points for the free routine. Provided all pace-makers were present in Tashkent, it would have been pretty hard to stay competitive.

COMPETITION SCHEDULE

Friday, June, 29: Team Technical, Duet Technical, Mixed Duet Technical, Opening Ceremony.

Saturday, June, 30: Team Highlight, Solo Technical, Team Free, Mixed Duet Free.

Sunday, July, 1: Team Free Combination, Solo Free, Duet Free.