Head-to-Head: Marta Fiedina or Linda Cerruti

By Noelle Theodoulou

Ukrainian Marta Fiedina and Italian Linda Cerruti soared to new heights in artistic swimming last year, producing career-best performances at the 2022 FINA World Championships (now World Aquatics) and LEN European Championships. 

21-year-old Fiedina has dominated the world stage since 2018, having amassed 63 World Aquatics (WA) and Olympic medals. But, last year, 29-year-old veteran Cerruti challenged the Ukrainian notably at the European Championships in Roma set from August 11 – 15.

Cerruti accumulated eight medals at what she described in an Instagram post as “the best European Championships of [her] career.” She earned six silver medals in the solo technical, solo free, team technical, team free, free combination, and highlight routines, and a pair of bronzes in the duet technical and duet free routines. 

Having competed at the European Championships since 2010, Cerruti surpassed her career-best medal count of seven in a single championship. She secured seven, predominantly bronze, medals at the 2016 and 2018 editions of the European Championships. Cerruti, the most decorated artistic swimmer at the European level, continues to raise the bar for herself and place higher overall at competitions.

Cerruti’s solo technical at the 2022 European Championships was one of the most impressive performances of her career. She achieved a lifetime best score of 90.8839, which exceeded her previous best of 90.2282 she received in 2018. After completing her routine and seeing her score, Cerruti displayed a joyful reaction in shock at her brilliant performance. She improved from a few months prior at Budapest Worlds, where she placed fourth with a score of 89.0142.

Though Cerruti did not achieve a personal best in the solo free routine at the European Championships, she did receive a score of 92.1000, which topped her 90.9667 at Worlds which also ranked fourth.

Without placing in her solo routines at 2022 Worlds, Cerruti still came away with a silver in team highlight and two bronzes in team technical and team free combination. This installment of the World Championships brought Cerruti the most hardware after having one silver in team highlight at the 2019 Gwangju Worlds.

Two-time Olympic bronze medallist Fiedina had a spectacular showing at last year’s Worlds, bringing home two gold medals in team highlight and team free combination and three silvers in solo technical, solo free, and team free. Finishing behind Japan’s Yukiko Inui in both solo routines, Fiedina earned her first solo World medals with lifetime best scores of 91.9555 in technical and 93.8000 in free. As well as she performed, Fiedina would not peak until the European Championships to conclude her summer of great success.

Fiedina shared that she and the Ukrainian team had trained in Italy for five months leading up to the European Championships. The Italian Swimming Federation graciously welcomed and offered its Olympic facilities to the Ukrainian squad after fleeing the outbreak of war in their homeland. Fiedina explained to LEN TV that the messages from her compatriot soldiers over the months fueled her and her teammates’ motivation to represent their country well.

Fiedina was triumphant, winning six gold medals in both solo routines and all four team events. She significantly improved her scores from Worlds with a total of 92.6394 in solo technical and 94.6333 in solo free. The elements portion of Fiedina’s technical routine was the most substantial improvement from Worlds, scoring 36.3394 to her previous 35.8555. Cerruti kept a closer margin in this event compared to the free solo routine by falling about 1.75 points short of Fiedina.

The excitement surrounding Fiedina’s accomplishments in the pool, considering the difficult circumstances spurred by conflict in her home country, prompted overwhelming support in the votes for the 2022 LEN Awards. Regarded as “the hero of the summer,” Fiedina won 60.61% of votes while runner-up Cerruti obtained 22.92%.

Fans are closely watching these two incredible women continuously transcend themselves at elite competitions. The improvements that Cerruti and Fiedina have shown last year demonstrate that they are the leading names in artistic swimming. This summer will feature the LEN European Championships in Oświęcim (June 21 – 25) as part of the European Games and the Fukuoka World Aquatics Championships (July 13 – 21), where fans can anticipate even more exceptional performances from the world leading athletes.