Natalia Vega and Bill May compete in the mixed duet free preliminary round during the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships on July 19, 2019 in Gwangju, South Korea.
Megumi Field and Natalia Vega opened the FINA Artistic Swimming World Series with a win this weekend in a virtual event hosted by the U.S. and Canada.
In their first competition together, 16-year-old Field and Vega, 23, edged five other teams to win the free duet. The only other U.S. entrant this weekend, in the non-Olympic highlight category, also finished first.
Other expected U.S. entrants were late withdrawals due to injuries and other challenges, according to USA Artistic Swimming.
The event, put on by USA Artistic Swimming and Canada Artistic Swimming, was to include 15 countries competing virtually. Participants in the sport formerly called synchronized swimming filmed their routines in early to mid-February and submitted them for judging. Special instructions, including timestamps, aimed to make the event emulate a live competition as much as possible. The routines were then streamed on USA Artistic Swimming’s website this weekend.
Field, of Wilmington, Delaware, is seen as a strong up-and-comer known for her technical ability and extension. She placed second in the team, duet and highlight competitions at the 2021 Junior Pan American Games.
The more veteran Vega, who is from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, has competed in two world championships for Team USA, and she was also the sport’s 2021 Collegiate Athlete of the Year while competing for the University of Incarnate Word.
They scored 84.9 points Sunday to edge the team from South Korea, which scored 84.2.
Two-time Olympian Anita Alvarez and Dani Ramirez are also on the U.S. duet team this season, though they didn’t compete in the virtual event.
The U.S. team for the highlight category consisted of Field, Ramirez and Vega in addition to Elisa Brunel, Claudia Coletti, Ivy Davis, Yujin Chang, Emily Ding, Keana Hunter and Atira O’Neil. Despite having to adapt their routine due to some missing team members, the U.S. squad scored 84.9667 to stay ahead of Canada, which scored 82.9667.
The Artistic Swimming World Series continues with an in-person event April 1-3 in Paris that will feature solo, duet and team events.