by Christina Marmet
The fourth day of competition at the 2023 LEN European Junior Artistic Swimming Championships in Funchal was filled with as many exciting and history-making moments as the previous ones.
Two days after winning gold in the Female Solo Technical, Klara Bleyer of Germany earned her second European Junior title in the Female Solo Free final with a score of 208.8479. Her “Mandalorian”-themed routine was stacked with difficulty; the 19-year-old had declared 34.10 as her Degree of Difficulty (DD), the highest of the field. After a clean and strong swim, she received full credit and hence secured herself and Germany a historical second gold medal.
“I am super overwhelmed and also super happy,” she said. “Everything went really fine, I am very excited for the future. With the new scoring system, everything is possible now, it’s much more exciting.”
Zoi Karangelou of Greece was also credited with her full DD of 32.20 and won silver with 206.4500. The 18-year-old had actually modified some of her hybrids and decreased her DD by 2.10 from the preliminary round, where she had placed eighth and received four base marks. The play-it-safe strategy clearly paid off as she moved onto the podium with her “Moonlight” choreography.
After winning silver in the Female Solo Technical, Lilou Lluis Valette of Spain added a bronze to her medal haul with a score of 196.9771 for her routine set to the soundtrack of “The Theory of Everything”. The Spaniard actually went for the opposite strategy and raised her DD to 29.05, a 1.65 increase from the preliminary. Lluis Valette had placed sixth then, but this gamble also paid off for her in the final. She was awarded her full difficulty and clinched yet another medal for Spain.
🔱 It’s gold for Filippo Pelati in the Men Solo Free Final! 🇮🇹— LEN – European Aquatics (@LENaquatics) August 5, 2023
A stunning performance from Pelati earns him a podium topping score of 172.0125! 🥇#LENJASC2023 | #ArtisticSwimming pic.twitter.com/DQ1JiQFUCT
Six athletes took part in the Male Solo Free final, including David Martinez Delgado of Sweden who was making his international debut and who became the first Swedish male artistic swimmer to swim in a major competition.
Ultimately, the three medallists from 2022 found themselves on the podium again, albeit in a different order. This time, Filippo Pelati, bronze medallist last year, claimed the top spot and first gold for Italy with a score of 172.0125. Swimming to “Fallin’” by SERYO, the 16-year-old showed a strong performance and was credited his full DD of 25.55.
“I am very happy and proud of this medal,” he said. “I didn’t expect anything like this in this competition and with all the base marks. When I got out of the water, I actually could see the [technical] controllers taking a lot of time to review, so I expected base marks. So I am very happy it didn’t come true.”
Dennis Gonzalez Boneu of Spain, the defending European Junior Champion and reigning World Champion in the event, earned silver with a score of 166.3313. The Spaniard had declared a DD of 28.55, the highest of the field and a 2.30 increase since the World Championships, for his routine set to “Golden Hour” by JVKE. Unfortunately, he received a costly base mark, which dropped him to second place.
Ranjuo Tomblin of Great Britain, silver medallist in 2022, grabbed the bronze with a score of 146.4938 for his “Samurai” routine. This is his third medal in Funchal, after claiming silver in the Mixed Duet Free and bronze in the Male Solo Technical.
Outstanding performance in the Acrobatic Routine Final at the European Junior Artistic Swimming Championships! Team Spain earn one more gold medal with score of 206.8033! 🏅🇪🇸#LENJASC2023 | #ArtisticSwimming pic.twitter.com/TQMqDmipJn— LEN – European Aquatics (@LENaquatics) August 5, 2023
In the Acrobatic Routine Final, Spain claimed its fourth gold of the competition after scoring 206.8033 on its “Machines” choreography. The Spaniards were the defending European Junior Champions in this event, and once again could not be denied. Both Dennis Gonzalez Boneu and Fernando Diaz del Rio Soto swam in the routine as well, and were the only two male athletes to take part in this final.
“We did our best routine ever,” Gonzalez Boneu said. “We’ve put in so much energy and I think we did really great. For me, it is the most fun to swim with the girls and with Fernando. This acrobatic routine gave us so much opportunity to show something special. I really enjoyed it today.”
The podium in this event was ultimately the same as in 2022, with Italy taking the silver and Greece the bronze. The Italians received 187.7867 on their “Dragons” routine while the Greek scored 173.1600 for their new “Snakes” choreography.
The competition concludes tomorrow in Funchal. Tune in for the Duet Technical and Mixed Duet Technical Finals at 9:30, and the Team Free Final at 17:00.