Belgrade 2024: Spain Wins First Gold of European Championships in Artistic Swimming Team Technical

Credit to: Aniko Kovacs/European Aquatics

By Christina Marmet

The first day of competition at the European Aquatics Championships 2024 Belgrade was all about artistic swimming, with the top nations taking to the warm and sunny waters of the Sports and Recreational Center “Milan Gale Muškatirović” to fight for medals or a spot in the final.

In the only final of the day, Spain claimed the first gold of these championships with an engaging and fast-paced performance in the Team Technical event.

Coming in as the reigning European champions and vice-World champions in this event, the Spaniards didn’t let the pressure get to them.

They swam first in the final and never let go of the lead. Swimming to West Side Story’s “Mambo”, they totalled 278.4684 for their “Ponle fuego ¡VAMOS!”-themed routine to claim back-to-back European titles.

Credit to: Aniko Kovacs/European Aquatics

“We enjoyed this performance so much,” Alisa Ozhogina Ozhogin said. “We swam without basemarks so that’s really good, and we achieved our goal. Now, we just need to keep going and to make this routine more perfect for the Olympics. Every day, we are thinking about Paris, and we are counting down the days with a lot of happiness and eagerness.”

Qualified for the 2024 Paris Games, Spain has opted to only compete in the team technical event in Belgrade amongst the five Olympic events.

Greece earned silver with a score of 257.8918 for its “Rhythm” choreography. The Greek team had placed fourth with this routine last time out at the 2023 European Games and have since welcomed three newcomers on the squad to perform it.

“This medal means a lot for us,” said 17-year-old Athina Kamarinopoulou, competing at her first senior European Championships. “We have done much training back in Greece, so many hours in the water. We had this as a goal, we made it, so we are very happy.

“It’s only the beginning of the competition and we have more goals to achieve, so we move forward. We would like to win a gold medal in the other team events, but I won’t say a lot. We have to be patient and do our best, but this is our goal. This is a great beginning of the competition for us.”

Italy claimed the bronze medal thanks to a score of 256.8584 for its “Disco Dance” routine. Although the country is qualified for the Olympic Games, this is not the Italian team that will compete in Paris in a few weeks.

Most of the athletes on this roster actually made their senior European Championships debuts on Monday, clearly demonstrating the strength and depth of talent that the Mediterranean nation boasts.

“We were very excited and proud of our work,” Giorgia Macino said. “In the water, we felt very good, and of course we are very happy with this medal. I am very happy to be in this team and to be part of team Italy.

“We worked a lot to prepare for this competition. Last week was our final push, and we trained very hard to accomplish this result. I think today, we did our best.”

Credit to: European Aquatics

The Team Technical final also marked a historical moment for the home team, with the country competing in a team event for only the second time at a European Championships. Serbia was also the sole mixed team in tonight’s final, as 2022 bronze technical solo medallist Ivan Martinovic took part in the routine.

“It was brutal for me to train with a team,” said Martinovic, who’s swimming in a team routine for the first time. “It was very hard, but the girls were amazing and made it a very fun experience.

“It’s always a pioneer moment when I do anything in this sport, because there is a patriarchy in Serbian culture so it’s very unlikely to see a male in a female-dominated sport.

“I think I’m breaking boundaries; maybe some young kid in the stands might now be okay to try synchronised swimming after seeing me. Also, it was so great to have everyone here today, our friends, families, and even grandparents who never saw us doing synchro before, even on TV. They watched us live and it gave us that little boost that we needed for this to be an amazing experience.”

Credit to: Aniko Kovacs/European Aquatics

In the morning, the European Aquatics Championships got underway in warm and sunny Belgrade with the Women Solo Free Preliminary. Fifteen athletes took to the pool, aiming for a clean performance and a top-12 finish to secure a spot in the final. The event had not been held since the Roma 2022 European Championships as it wasn’t on the programme for the 2023 European Games.

Vasiliki Alexandri of Austria, reigning European bronze medallist, claimed the top spot with a total score of 251.7750 with her “Fight for Survival” choreography. The 26-year-old had unveiled this new choreography at the Paris World Cup at the beginning of May.

Sitting in second is Klara Bleyer of Germany with a total of 247.9438, while Marloes Steenbeek of the Netherlands lies in third with a score of 220.7084. These three athletes actually appeared on both podiums for the Solo Free and Solo Technical at the Paris World Cup a few weeks ago, in this exact order.

The Solo Free Final will take place on June 13 at 10:30, where the soloists from Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, San Marino, Georgia, Croatia, Greece, Sweden, Türkiye, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Italy will get a second opportunity to showcase their routines.