Synchronised Swimming: Jenna Randall and Olivia Federici trailing dominant Russians
Sunday 05 August 2012
Jenna Randall and Olivia Federici started off their synchronised swimming campaign with ninth place in the duet technical routine as the Russian domination showed no sign of abating.
The pair scored 88.100 points to improve one place on their technical showing at last year's World Championships in Shanghai.
Russia, though, look nigh-on unbeatable as they led the way with 98.200 out of a possible 100 ahead of China (96.100pts) and Spain (96.000).
The Russian duo of Natalia Ishchenko, dubbed 'Phelps In A Skirt' because of her medal-laden career like the swimmer who has just retired with 22 Olympic medals, and Svetlana Romashina are odds-on to maintain Russia's place at the pinnacle of the sport, having been both duet and team champions since Sydney 12 years ago.
Huge strides have been made in the sport in Britain since Biz Price's appointment as national performance director in 2007.
In September of that year a high performance centre was set up at army barracks in Aldershot and central funding allowed the athletes to go full-time.
This has reaped huge rewards over a relatively short space of time.
Randall and Federici were 14th a year later at the Beijing Games, the first Britons to compete in synchro since 1992 when Kerry Shacklock and Laila Vakil finished sixth.
Second at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, last year saw the pair finish 10th in the technical routine at the World Championships in Shanghai.
Seventh at this year's European Championships represented a two-place drop on their previous outing although it was felt the scoring was questionable.
Today their appearance at the Aquatics Centre prompted a raucous welcome and following their routine there was a standing ovation and a sea of Union Flags.
The technical routine involves performing predetermined elements that must be executed in a specific order.
Having finished ninth they are in a good position to progress to Tuesday's duet final with the free routine coming tomorrow, a top-12 finish over the two routines will see them into the decider.
Randall said: "It was great. Hearing the crowd cheer for us when we were walking out was fantastic, it gave us that extra little buzz when we were swimming."
The three-time Commonwealth silver medallist was pleased with the scores they had been awarded.
"Yes, very happy," she added.
"We haven't been able to get 88 in the tech routine for a while now so it was great to do that.
"We're ahead of the people we wanted to beat at this competition so far so we're hoping to keep that up for tomorrow."
Federici echoed her team-mate's sentiments over the crowd, adding that once the routine starts they are locked in to their routine.
She said: "We are focused on each other and the music and what we are doing.
"When you start and stop you really feel it, it's good.
"I think sticking to our preparation, we do these routines day-in, day-out.
"We train eight hours a day, we are constantly doing these routines so its ingrained in us and it makes easier for us to just go out and perform.
"It felt like a good swim, but we've got corrections we need to do."
The technical routine is Ishchenko's favourite element.
According to the 15-time world champion, hard work lies behind Russian success.
She said: "We train more than 10 hours a day.
"To train more than 10 hours a day is physically impossible.
"We have the best coaches and specialists in the world and thank God they still live in Russia.
"It's also about talent, it's about soul.
"The Russians are very good at ballet and gymnastics because the Russian soul is about living the music and living the dance."
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