Synchro duet make the best splash in Rio

Published 15 August 2016 (AEDT)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 14: Nikita Pablo and Rose Stackpole of Australia compete in the Women's Duets Synchronised Swimming Free Routine Preliminary Round on Day 9 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. © 2016 Getty Images

SYNCHRONISED SWIMMING: Four months ago synchronised swimmers Nikita Pablo and Rose Stackpole were friends and team members.
Today they represented Australia as a united pair – and exceeded their own expectations - competing in the opening day of synchronised swimming competition at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

The first day of preliminary final at Maria Lenk pool involved the free routine, and in a competitive field of 24 teams Stackpole and Pablo focussed only on themselves.

“We just wanted to have a really clean performance and I think that was one of the best swims, if not the best swim we’ve ever done,” Stackpole said.
“It felt amazing; we’re both Olympic rookies so walking out on that stage felt incredible. To top it all off we had an awesome swim which is all we can ask for.”

After their April selection as the duet to represent Australia at the Games, the pair have had an intense period of training and preparation.
“We competed at the Japan Open just two weeks after we were selected… I would say this is more like our first official performance,” Pablo said.
“The energy out there was awesome. I was a bit surprised (by the crowd), I guess we’re not used to that, but I felt really focussed and just went for it.”
Stackpole and Pablo achieved a score of 74.7667 for their free routine, putting them in 24th position leading in to the technical routine on Monday 11am (AEST 12am Tuesday 17 Aug).

Australian coach Lilianne Grenier said the routine represented the "dauntless" - a character from the film Divergent - and the moves convey bravery, courage and freedom.

Grenier said the duo should be proud of their opening performance.

“It’s one of our best scores so far so we’re very happy with that,” Grenier said.

“The objective to come here was to prove that we can do some great performances and personal scores and I think that they’ve proved it.”

The first session for synchronised swimming featured some strong performances including the Ukraine pair who represented skeletons, the Spanish team that showcased some tango-style moves and a seemingly flawless performance by competition favourites Russia.

Russia scored 98.0667 to lead the field on day one, followed closely by China (96.0667) and Japan (94.4000).

Duet competition continues tomorrow with team competition starting on Thursday 18 August.

Candice Keller

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