Gold rush continues for Spain and Italy at European Junior Artistic Swimming Championships

Credit to: European Aquatics

By Christina Marmet

With two finals on Sunday’s programme, the pace picked up in Malta for the third day of the European Aquatics Junior Artistic Swimming Championships.

Spain and Italy continued to shine, bagging one more gold apiece in the Women Duet Technical and the Mixed Duet Technical respectively.

Eighteen nations participated in the Women Duet Technical Final, where athletes got to showcase their routines for the first and only time, as this event did not feature a preliminary round.

After nearly two hours of an intense and thrilling competition, it all came down to the last few routines. Swimming second to last, Naia Alvarez Vicente and Rocio Calle Garcia of Spain ultimately finished on top with a total score of 272.7866, claiming the European title and Spain’s second gold medal of these championships.

The 16 and 17-year-old, respectively, were outstanding in their dynamic “Car Chase” routine, which they have been working on since last December. They left no doubt in the judges’ minds as they were credited with their full Degree of Difficulty of 31.40 and received the highest artistic impression score of the day.

Credit to: European Aquatics

Prune Tapie and Lou Thuillier of France earned the silver medal with 263.8966 for their “Nature” choreography – one that was used by the French senior duet over the last few years.

The two had originally received a penalising basemark on the final hybrid, putting them in the bronze medal position, but ultimately were credited with their full difficulty following a successful protest. 

France had not appeared in the duet at last year’s European Junior Championships, but Thuillier competed in that event in the World Youth Championships, placing fifth.

With their assertive performance, Sofia Rigakou and Vasiliki Thanou of Greece secured the bronze medal with a score of 254.8633. The Greek pair had a clean swim on their “Cruella” choreography, one that was used the last two seasons by the senior duet and that helped them clinch a quota to the Paris Olympic Games. 

Although this is their first season together in the duet, the two have been teammates for two years, and were also part of the Greek squad that claimed three medals in the team events at the European Aquatics Championships Belgrade 2024. Moreover, Thanou, who turns 16 in November, is also the reigning World Youth champion in the duet.

Credit to: European Aquatics

In the Mixed Duet Technical Final, the pair of Italy swam first in the final and never let go of the top spot. Bronze medallists in 2023, Ginevra Marchetti and Gabriele Minak secured the European title with a score of 245.1150 for their strong and elegant “Icarus” routine.

Ranjuo Tomblin and Loya Cenkci of Great Britain earned the silver medal with a score of 237.3784 for their “Modern Charleston” routine. Tomblin, who placed fourth in this event last year, recently returned from winning four medals in Belgrade. Despite Tomblin’s back injury earlier in the year and limited training time with his new partner, he and Cenkci delivered a clean and entertaining performance, continuing his successful streak so far this year with another podium finish in Malta.

Ariadna Benito Da Silva and Jordi Caceres Iglesias of Spain won bronze on their routine set to Vivaldi’s “Winter” with a total of 230.6350. The Spaniards came in with the highest declared difficulty of the final (29.85), but unfortunately couldn’t quite execute it as planned. They incurred two basemarks and subsequent penalties, and despite a strong artistic impression, it wasn’t enough to compensate for the reduced difficulty.

This podium finish remains an outstanding achievement for the two who have only been swimming together for a few weeks, and considering this is Caceres Iglesias’ first international season.

In the morning, 11 nations faced off in the Team Free Preliminaries, where Spain comfortably took the lead with a total score of 311.5668 for its “Witches” routine. All teams move on to Tuesday’s final, where Spain will be joined by Switzerland, France, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Germany, Czechia, Great Britain, Bulgaria and Türkiye.

The penultimate day of competition will be as busy as it gets, with four finals on the programme. The action will start at 10:00 with the Women Solo Free Final, immediately followed by the Men Solo Free Final. The evening’s events will start at 17:00 with the Duet Free Final, before moving on to the Mixed Duet Free Final.

Follow all the action live on European Aquatics TV YouTube channel

Follow the link to results here