Anita Alvarez and Lindi Schroeder compete in the artistic swimming duet technical routine at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 3, 2021 in Tokyo.
TOKYO — Anita Alvarez and Lindi Schroeder came to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 excited to represent Team USA in artistic swimming — the sport known as synchronized swimming until 2017.
In a competitive field, they missed qualifying for the duet final by less than one point. The Americans finished 13th behind Mexico, and only the top 12 moved on.
“I think we're happy with the way we swam today,” said Alvarez after their technical routine. “We wanted to make a change from yesterday and the way that we performed and that we personally felt doing the routine, not just the scores reflected but how we were able to enjoy the routine, we were able to perform.”
In the final free performance, four-time Olympian Svetlana Romashina and her new partner Svetlana Kolesnichenko from the Russian Olympic Committee performed a spider-themed duet and claimed the gold medal with a huge score of 195.9079. It was Romashina’s sixth Olympic gold medal.
Huang Xuechen and Sun Wenyan of China won the silver medal with a snake-inspired routine (192.4499), and the Ukrainian duet of Marta Fiedina and Anastasiya Savchuk took the bronze (189.4620).
The Americans were torn up about not making the final. A two-time Olympian, Alvarez finished ninth in the duet with Mariya Koroleva at the Olympic Games Rio 2016; Koroleva has since retired.
Although both Alvarez and Schroeder are artistic swimming veterans, the two are a young team, having paired for the duet in 2018. (Synchronized swimming became known as artistic swimming because synchronization is only part of each routine.)
Alvarez, 24, is from Tonawanda, New York, and her mother, Karen, competed in the 1984 U.S. Olympic Trials in synchronized swimming and now coaches. Alvarez began the sport at age 5 and was competing at age 9. She is now a senior member of the U.S.’s artistic swimming national team.
Schroeder, 19, is from Andover, Massachusetts, and discovered synchronized swimming after she tired of swim lessons. Her parents still wanted to ensure that their young daughter was comfortable in the water. So they enrolled her in a synchronized swimming novice program hoping that she would like it better than traditional lessons. She did, and soon began competing, making the national team at the 11-12 (age) level. In 2016, Schroeder was a junior world champion finalist. Two years later, she moved to northern California to train with the senior national team.
Both Alvarez and Schroeder are Pan American Games Lima 2019 bronze medalists, Alvarez in the duet and team events, Schroeder in team artistic swimming.
In May 2020, both women gained publicity for artistic swimming on “The Voice,” a TV talent show. Alvarez and Schroeder helped singer John Legend, a coach on The Voice, try artistic swimming.
When the pandemic hit, the artistic swimmers trained in backyard pools. Then the air quality caused by California forest fires hampered their training. Coming up for air only occasionally, artistic swimmers need lung-fuls of clean air when they have the opportunity to breathe.
When competition resumed, the U.S. artistic swimmers were focused on qualifying for the Tokyo Games.
Artistic swimming competition has become fierce since the Rio Games. The U.S. has not qualified a full team of nine since the Olympic Games Beijing 2008 (only 10 teams qualify for the Olympic Games).