by Christina Marmet
Three sets of medals were awarded on the second day of the European Junior Artistic Swimming Championships in Funchal, Portugal. Germany and Israel earned their first medals of the competition, both golds, in the Female Solo Technical Final and the Free Combination Routine, while Spain secured its second gold of these championships in the Male Solo Technical Final.
The first final of the day saw 18 athletes compete in the Female Solo Technical Final. Klara Bleyer of Germany brought home the gold with a score of 229.9000. The 19-year-old performed to “Coffee” by Sylvan Esso, and had declared the highest Degree of Difficulty (DD) of the entire field with 31.30. Bleyer, who placed eighth in this event at the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, guaranteed herself a basemark-less performance as well as the first European Junior solo title for the country in nearly 40 years.
Lilou Lluis Valette of Spain was also credited with her full DD of 27.20 to win silver with a score of 226.2817. In her first season as the country’s junior soloist, the Spaniard swam to the song “Je te laisserai des mots” by Patrick Watson, and earned the highest artistic impression score of the evening, 94.5500, for her flowing and captivating choreography.
Here’s the latest from the LEN European Junior Artistic Swimming Championships, as Spain claim their second gold 👏— LEN – European Aquatics (@LENaquatics) August 3, 2023
🥇 W Solo Technical Final – Klara Bleyer 🇩🇪
🥇 M Solo Technical Final – Fernando Diaz 🇪🇸
🥇 Free Combination Final – Israel 🇮🇱#LENJASC2023 | #ArtisticSwimming
The fight for silver and bronze was a close one as Oriane Jaillardon only finished 0.2 points behind Lluis Valette. Jaillardon, fourth in 2022, grabbed a second bronze medal for France with a score of 226.0817. The Frenchwoman, 17, has competed and perfected this “Madness” choreography all season long on the World Cup circuit and recently placed 10th at the World Championships as well.
Four athletes participated in the Male Solo Technical Final. Reigning World Champion Fernando Diaz del Rio Soto of Spain couldn’t be beaten once more, comfortably securing gold by a near 15-point lead. Swimming to the theme “The Beauty of the Darkness,” the 20-year-old claimed his first European Junior solo title with a score of 204.7633.
Quentin Rakotomalala of France won silver with 192.1767 and the only basemark-less routine of the event. The 20-year-old’s routine is set to the song “Red Dust” by James Vincent McMorrow, and had already helped him to an eighth-place finish at the World Championships.
The bronze medal went to Ranjuo Tomblin of Great Britain with a total of 188.3833 for his routine set to “The Greatest Showman”. He had declared the highest DD of the final (27.45) but a costly basemark dropped his DD to 21.45, which was still enough for third place in Funchal. Tomblin also performed this routine in Fukuoka and placed fifth.
Filippo Pelati of Italy, silver medallist in 2022, had to settle for fourth and a score of 185.9833 after receiving a zero on one of his technical required elements.
Only two nations participated in the Free Combination Routine final, an event that is now only on the European Championships programme. Israel became European Junior Champion for the first time with a total of 196.1958. The athletes performed to the same theme of “Spanish Dance” as the senior squad, which also became European Champions in this event a few weeks ago at the European Games. In Funchal, Yogev Dagan became Israel’s first male artistic swimmer to win a gold medal at a European Championships. He has also been the sole male to appear in team routines so far in Funchal.
Croatia earned silver with a score of 158.2083 with a routine set to the score of Cipollino, a ballet music composed by Karen Khachaturian.
Finally, the day had begun with the duet free preliminary event. 16 pairs unveiled their routines and fought to finish in the top 12 to qualify to the final. In the end, Klara Bleyer and Susana Rovner of Germany came out on top with a score of 178.0229. The two recently competed in this event at the World Championships, where they ranked 18th.
The duets of Greece, Spain, Slovakia, Hungary, Italy, Czechia, Malta, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Switzerland, and Portugal have also qualified to the duet free final.
The competition continues tomorrow with the Free Team Preliminary at 9:30, followed by the Free Duet and Free Mixed Duet Finals at 17:00.