TORONTO - The synchronized swimming duet of Mariya Koroleva and Alison Williams won the first U.S. medal of the 2015 Pan American Games by claiming bronze Saturday at the CIBC Aquatics Center in Toronto.
The podium finish also marked the first for the newly joined duo, who were excited to compete early at these Games.
“It’s such an honor,” Williams said. “We’re going straight from here to the world championships, so that’s a reason why the synchronized swimming competition was up front. It’s an honor to represent Team USA and be the first ones to get a medal.”
Koroleva, a 2012 Olympian and now three-time Pan American Games medalist, and Williams entered the final ranked third, and scored 83.8667 to finish with an overall score of 166.3876 and edge Brazil for the final podium spot. The two overcame wardrobe malfunctions and gelling as a unit, as Williams was originally listed as a reserve for duet competition, which began July 9.
“I think we had a good final swim, we’re both pretty happy,” said Koroleva on their medal-winning performance. “We had a little costume mishap, malfunction starting from the dive, but I think we did a good job.”
“We had to come together really quickly and we’re both really happy with how this meet worked out for the duet.”
Koroleva and Williams will also represent the U.S. as part of the team competition on Saturday afternoon, but the pair has unique bragging rights of being the first U.S. athletes to medal in Toronto, a plus to standing on the podium.
“It feels great, every time you get to stand on the podium and see our flag raised, it’s really a privilege,” said Koroleva. “We’re really proud to be here and represent the U.S.”
The Canadian pair of Jacqueline Simoneau and Karine Thomas captured the gold medal with a total score of 178.0881, while Karem Achach and Nuria Diosdado won silver for Mexico with 170.7800 points.