SAMORIN, Slovakia – The 10 athletes that make up USA Synchro’s 13-15 National Team has joined other teams from around the world in Samorin, Slovakia, for the First FINA World Youth Artistic Swimming Championships. This week, they will compete in figures, solo, duet and team.
The team arrived in Slovakia on Sunday, and had two days to train in the water at the beautiful X-Bionic Sphere in Samorin. Head Coach, Megan Azebu, said the competition is looking stiff, but her swimmers are ready.
“I think it was tremendously eye opening to see what other athletes around the world look like,” Azebu said. “I know they are excited and a little nervous to show off their work.”
The 13-15 National Team has spent the last six weeks training together in Palo Alto, California. In that time, Azebu and assistant coach Irina Rodriguez, have split time working on figures and routines plus learning new patterns and lift setups.
“We are typically in the water for six to seven hours a day,” Azebu said. “Our assistant coach, Irina, has organized a land work program to keep the athletes’ foundation strong and to help complement the work we are doing in the water.”
This year the 13-15 National Team is made up of a mix of experienced athletes from last year’s 13-15 National Team along with a handful of first-time National Team swimmers. Azebu said the returners have been instrumental in setting the standard for the team.
One of the main areas that Azebu and Rodriguez focused on throughout training camp was getting back to the basics and doing the simple and easy things the right way to build a strong foundation for the future.
“We are swimming three different programs than last year, and these athletes have stepped up to the challenge,” Azebu said. “We know the rest of the world has been working hard to have strong showings, and we are excited to rise to the challenge.”
Claire Kim is the 13-15 National Team soloist, and she will debut a different solo than the one she competed at the U.S. 13-15 Nationals in April. Azebu said this routine gives Kim the opportunity to demonstrate all her strengths: flexibility, strength and dynamic height.
The duet representing the U.S. is the pair of Yujin Chang and Emily Ding. Azebu said they added more difficulty and speed than last year.
The 13-15 team knows they will face tough competition, but they have focused on consistent improvement and discipline each day. The swimmers that make up the 13-15 National Team are Yujin Chang, Ivy Davis, Emily Ding, Keana Hunter, Megan Kerner, Claire Kim, Alexis McCracken, Riley Morgan, Atira O’Neil and Ashlyn Wang.
Find more information about the First FINA World Youth Championships here.