Belgrade 2024: Greece’s landmark gold, Dutch dominance, and Spanish success on final day of artistic swimming

Credit to: European Aquatics

By Christina Marmet

The artistic swimming competition at the European Aquatics Championships Belgrade 2024 wrapped up in style, with more golds for the Netherlands and Spain, as well as a historical first European title for Greece.

In the morning, the podium of the Duet Technical Final featured familiar faces once more with the Olympic-bound pairs from the Netherlands, Great Britain and Israel repeating their placements from the Duet Free final.

Coming in as the reigning European silver medallists, Bregje and Noortje de Brouwer of the Netherlands secured in a stunning fashion their second European title with a score of 260.6567 for their upbeat “Disco” choreography.

“I think somebody has to wake me up, because I don’t believe this yet,” Noortje said. “We are really European champions now, twice!”

The twins had only decided to compete in the Duet Technical event shortly before coming to Belgrade. Following Noortje’s diabetes diagnosis, they had been limited in their training and had opted to only focus on the Duet Free at first.

“We didn’t expect this result today because we didn’t focus as much on this routine,” she continued.

“After I got diagnosed, we weren’t sure if we even had enough time to be here at all and be fit enough to do both routines.

“After some weeks, we saw I was doing okay and we decided we could come to Belgrade, but we were planning to do only the Duet Free. But then after our training camp in Torremolinos, our coach told us we were ready for both. It’s a surprising result, but of course we can be very proud.”

Credit to: European Aquatics

Kate Shortman and Isabelle Thorpe of Great Britain claimed their second silver medal in Belgrade with a score of 256.7184.

Swimming to the theme of “Clocks”, the reigning world silver medallists swam shortly after the Dutch, and certainly had high hopes to stay ahead just like at the Doha World Championships.

It wasn’t to be, but these two duets will be ones to watch at the upcoming Olympic Games.

“It’s quite bittersweet because obviously we were fighting for the gold,” Shortman said.

“I guess it’s a privilege to even be fighting for that top place position, so we’re happy about that.

“There’s still a lot of room for improvement going into Paris so we’re really excited.”

Credit to: European Aquatics

Shelly Bobritsky and Ariel Nassee of Israel claimed their second duet bronze medal with a total of 243.6250. Swimming to the theme of “Gypsy Dance,” the two performed the highest Degree of Difficulty of this final (38.10)  and of the world at this time.

“It’s even more amazing to do the same achievement twice,” Nasser said. “It’s a milestone before the Olympics.

“It was very important to us to come focused and prepared and get what we thought we deserved. We tried our best, and we succeeded.”

In the same fashion, the podium of the Mixed Duet Technical Final featured the same three nations as in the Free event: Spain, Italy and Great Britain.

Credit to: Aniko Kovacs, European Aquatics

This time, Dennis Gonzalez Boneu paired up with Mireia Hernandez Luna to bring Spain its fourth gold of these championships with Gonzalez Boneu contributing to three.

The Spaniards received 218.7658 for their energetic “Congo” routine, and narrowly secured the top spot ahead of Italy despite receiving a small deduction for their pair acrobatics.

“We tried to repeat the same performance as in the last World Cup in Canada, enjoy ourselves,  show our artistic impression, and do all the difficulty,” Gonzalez Boneu said. “We got one basemark on the first lift, so we know we can improve.”

“We are so happy and proud of our performance,” Hernandez Luna added. “And of our team in general, with the four golds and everything we did here in these championships.”

Credit to: David Damnjanovic, European Aquatics

Silver medallist in the Mixed Duet Free, Filippo Pelati paired up with Sarah Maria Rizea for the Technical event.

Competing in their first senior European Aquatics Championships, the young Italians – 17 and 16 respectively – swam to the theme of “The Renaissance” and scored 217.1633, only 1.6025 behind Spain.

It was quite an impressive feat especially for Rizea, who had just competed in the Duet Technical Final less than an hour before.

“I still had the adrenaline in my veins from swimming right before, so I didn’t feel tired,” she said. “It was good to swim together in this championship.”

“We are very proud of ourselves and our swim,” Pelati added. “We had no basemark and we also improved the artistic impression.

“We are only one point away from first place, so we are very happy. It is a great push for us before the European Junior and World Junior Championships.”

Credit to: Aniko Kovacs, European Aquatics

Swimming alongside Beatrice Crass, Ranjuo Tomblin grabbed his fourth medal of Belgrade 2024 with a strong swim on their “Modern Charleston” routine.

Representing Great Britain, the pair came in as the current European bronze medallists and finished third with a score of 202.9817.

“This just tops it off,” Tomblin said. “I’ve said it before, but we didn’t come here really expecting anything. We just wanted to swim our best, so to be able to get another medal is a testament to our hard work and our sacrifices through the hard times this year.”

Although Crass is done for the year, 18-year-old Tomblin will next compete at the European Junior and World Junior Championships.

Credit to: European Aquatics

In the ultimate artistic swimming final of these championships, the team of Greece claimed its first European gold medal and first medal in the Team Free event with a score of 270.1980.

After receiving five basemarks and the resulting high deductions in the preliminaries, the Greek team made some adjustments to its Degree of Difficulty as well as its team roster ahead of this final. The strategy paid off as the team had a much better swim on its “Warriors” routine and secured the title.

“For the last two days, I’ve been telling you that we wanted to win the gold medal, and finally, we did it,” Athina Kamarinopoulou said.

“It’s a really touching and unique moment for an athlete to hear their national anthem on the podium, with a gold medal on their chest. But it’s not just a medal. Behind it are many, many hours of practice, a team with a lot of will and that knew they could do it. All the girls, we are really proud of this gold.”

Most athletes on this young Greek squad are far from having completed their season. They will compete next at the European Junior and World Junior Championships, undoubtedly with a huge boost of confidence after winning gold.

Credit to: Aniko Kovacs, European Aquatics

Similarly, the team of Italy had a much better performance in this final after suffering from six basemarks in the preliminaries. Swimming to the theme of “New World,” the Italians secured the silver medal with a score of 254.7354.

“This medal feels so much better than the one from yesterday (bronze in Team Acrobatic)”, Alessia Macchi said.

“It is also a big improvement from the preliminary to the final. We were a little bit shocked after the preliminary and the six basemarks, and we were very concerned about getting better. We did our best today.”

Great Britain won the bronze with a score of 219.0228. Performing to the theme “Female Warriors,” the British squad managed a near-flawless swim, only receiving one basemark, to claim the country’s first team medal since 1985.

This bronze feels absolutely incredible,” Robyn Swatman said. “It’s a new team, it’s a new environment, and we’ve all worked really hard this year. It’s definitely been tricky, but I think this has really paid off. Great Britain is coming up in the rankings, we’re improving, just watch out for the future!”

The next European artistic swimming competition will be the European Junior Championships, scheduled from June 28 to July 2 in Malta.

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