US Olympic Synchronized Swimming Team 2012: Updated News & Analysis

Avi Wolfman-ArentCorrespondent IIJune 20, 2012

US Olympic Synchronized Swimming Team 2012: Updated News & Analysis

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    After failing to medal in Beijing, the United States' synchronized swimming team seeks redemption at the 2012 London Olympics.

    The noble cause took a hit, however, when America failed to secure a place in the team competition for the first time in its Olympic history.

    That setback left America with just one synchro hope: a sole entrant in the duet competition.

    For more on the surviving duo and their medal chances, read on.

Qualification

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    Team USA will send two athletes to London in synchronized swimming.

    Mary Killman and Mariya Koroleva qualified for the duet competition by finishing seventh at the FINA Olympic Games Qualification Tournament in April. Each will be making their first Olympic appearance.

    Caitlin Stewart will serve as an alternate.

    At the same meet, the U.S. came up short in its bid to qualify for the team competition. Needing a top-three finish to secure an Olympic spot, the Americans finished sixth.

    This marks the first time since the introduction of the team competition in 1996 that the U.S. has failed to qualify.

Meet the Team

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    America's medal hopes in synchronized swimming rest on the shoulders of its only two entrants: Mary Killman (left) and Mariya Koroleva (right).

    Get to know 'em, why don't ya?

     

    Mariya Koroleva

    Koroleva, a Russian-born Stanford standout, has been on the national scene since her first appearance at junior nationals in 2004. The 22-year-old earned two silvers at the 2011 Pan-American Championships, one in duet and one in the team competition, and she holds a special affinity for tuna melts. To learn more about Mariya, follow her Olympic blog.

     

    Mary Killman

    A fixture for Team USA over their best three seasons, 21-year-old Mary Killman was named USA Synchro Athlete of the Year in  2010 and 2011. Her seven appointments to the national team rank second among active swimmers behind veteran performer Leah Pinette. Oklahoma-born and Texas-raised, Killman is part-Native American and a registered member of The Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

     

    And when they get together...

    Koroleva and Killman have never competed together at a major international competition, but Killman finished ninth in the technical competition and eleventh in the free competition  with Lyssa Wallace at the 2011 FINA World Championships.

    The duo's most high-profile combined effort came at the 2011 Pan-American Games, where they finished second to a team from Canada.

Surveying the World Scene

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    Russia is the undisputed top dog of the synchronized swimming world.

    The Russians captured first place in all seven events at the 2011 World Championships and captured both available gold medals at the last three Olympiads. Natalia Ishchenko is the star with 17 World Championship medals to her name and a team gold from Beijing.

    Other top contenders include Spain, Japan, Canada and the fast-rising Chinese.

Quick Facts

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    Competition Dates: August 5-10

    Olympic Venue: London Aquatics Centre

    U.S. Medal History: 9 total (5 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze), second all-time

    Most Decorated Athlete: Tracie Ruiz-Conforto (3 medals: 2 gold, 1 silver)

    Competition Rundown: Olympic synchro consists of two events—the duet competition and the team competition. The original Olympic synchro program featured a solo competition, but that has since been eliminated. In both duet and team, entrants swim a technical and a free routine. The technical routine emphasizes skill execution and accuracy. The free routine highlights creativity and artistry.

    There is no men's synchro competition.

Prediction

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    For the second consecutive Olympiad, it looks like Team USA will leave town without a medal in synchronized swimming.

    The Russians are virtually locked in the top spot, leaving Spain and China to jockey for silver and bronze.

    American duo Koroleva and Killman should finish in the top twelve during preliminaries and earn a spot in the final round, but don't expect much more.

    A top ten finish would suffice. A top five finish would be a pleasant surprise.

    Unfortunately for the U.S., this isn't a discipline known for Olympic surprises.  The Americans should settle in right around ninth.