COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.- The USA Olympic artistic swimming duet representatives have been hard at work the past month, refining and improving their duets to prepare for Tokyo.
After missing the team qualification by .2 points, the pair knew they had to execute their duet routines at the FINA Artistic Swimming Olympic Qualification Tournament in Barcelona to earn a place in the 2020 Olympic field. With much of the focus on preparation for the team, the duo spent very little time leading up to their Spain performances dedicated to the duet. While they said they are proud of what they were able to achieve given the circumstances, they know their ceiling is much higher.
“The team was the huge priority to try and qualify and while we got time to work on duets, it wasn’t a ton so a lot of it fell on us to do additional things outside of practice. It was difficult to manage. We did what we could going into it, but I do not think we had the best performances we could have.We know exactly what we have to fix and improve on going into Tokyo,” Anita Alvarez said.
Still, the team being edged for the final qualification spot did not mean the pair would forget. Rather, they are using their love for their teammates as motivation to reach even higher in duet.
“Although we do get to go and our teammates do not, it’s still hard. We want to do our swims and perform for them and enjoy the experience for the rest of the team as well,” Anita said about continuing to keep the team spirit alive. “It’s been great to have them around and they’ve been staying in contact showing their support. Every day that we’ve been practicing we’ve been thinking about the team and doing it for them."
Anita and Lindi, along with the coaches, have transitioned to dedicating just an hour per day to their duet routines to six hours plus. The growth they have seen since returning from Spain has been impressive and, after taking time to mentally process and shift goals, they have been energized by the Olympic opportunity in front of them. While they have had their current free routine since the French Open and their current tech routine since the beginning of the pandemic, they practically resemble brand-new routines in their current forms.
“We’ve made a lot of changes, especially in our free routine. We talk about how half of it or more is completely different.There are fresh movements, and it will be new and exciting for the audience to see, especially because we have had one routine since French Open,” Lindi Schroeder said. “We added some changes that make it more exciting and more difficult and are looking to show a lot of improvement in our matching and execution.”
Lindi and Anita were named as the USA Artistic Swimming Olympic duet representatives in October of 2019. Alvarez, a 2016 Olympian in the duet category, was expected to repeat her position for the 2020 Olympics. The selection for her partner, however, was difficult with the high level of talent to choose from. Lindi separated herself from the competition with her consistency and maturity after serving as the duet alternate for a year.
“It feels like forever ago, a different world, now. It was not something I was expecting. That decision from the coaches and selection committee was very motivating me to kind of dig deeper and focus more. That is partly why the postponement hasn’t been too difficult for me mentally.I have found the extra time to be a gift. Before, I would be at a competition in warm up wishing I had more time to prepare, it is just the way I am as a perfectionist. The extra time for me has meant the ability to work on improving myself physically and mentally,” Lindi said.
While the ushering in of a new era of USA Artistic Swimming undoubtedly started with the team, Lindi and Anita are prepared to carry the momentum into Tokyo and exemplify the spirit of the Robot team. The pair is excited to showcase two drastically improved routines to the artistic swimming community and Olympic fans globally.
“It's an honor and so exciting. When it first started to hit all of us was at French Open, but even before the free team score. There was a buzz around and people were drawn to the energy of something amazing. It was different than anything I had ever experienced before. You see coaches and athletes from top countries come up to us and tell us they are rooting for us and proud of our improvement That doesn’t happen all that often and it’s an honor and a privilege to swim for USA It makes me feel like we really are doing something for the sport and moving it forward.” Lindi said.
“I’m mostly proud to bring the hope again in the country. I think we did an amazing job with even if we had everything you can imagine stacked against us. What we did was teach a lot of resilience and to do all we can with what we have. We inspired a lot of people and that is priceless. Now it is very important that we keep this momentum. It was extremely hard to start, and it will be useless if we don’t continue to change the game,” Andrea Fuentes, head coach of the senior national team, said.
Andrea echoed the excitement to display the revamped duet routines. She has utilized her creativity and commitment to innovation to give Anita and Lindi choreography that sets them up for success.
“The free duet choreography we did in Barcelona is almost the same one we did before the pandemic. Now that we have had time to improve, the routine is much more competitive and I’m sure it will show off their true potential. We worked hard on the synchronization to fix angles and rotations, all details we didn't have the time to refine before,” Andrea said.
To stay updated during the Olympic Games, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Keep an eye out on our website for a more detailed preview of the duet field in Tokyo later this week.