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Canadian duet makes impressive debut at world synchro championships

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With barely more than five weeks of training together as a duet, Canada’s Claudia Holzner, 23, (Calgary, AB) and Jacqueline Simoneau, 20, (Montreal, QC) completed a superb debut as the duet competition concluded at the FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Both are seasoned veterans on the international scene, and that was evident in their impressive 7th place finish in the Synchro Duet Free Routine with a score of 89.0000.

Russian duo Svetlana Kolesnichenko/ Alexandra Patskevich were the gold medalists, followed by Jiang Tingting/Jiang Wenwen of China who took silver, and Anna Voloshyna/Yelyzaveta Yakhno of Ukraine who won bronze.

The Free Routine, swum to music by Oona, allows the two to show a more emotional side of swimming while still weaving difficulty and highlights into the routine. When asked to describe how they felt about today’s competitive routine, the two had one word answers; Holzner said it was “united” while Simoneau said it was “epic”! Finishing just over four points away from a podium berth, the two are leaving the world championships with valuable experience that sets them up for future success. While their routines already have the difficulty and performance quality of the podium finishers, they are looking forward to more training time together to add the refinement that will see them rise up the ranks of the top duets in the world.

“We surprised a lot of people here. The routines we swam here are the ones I used to swim with Karine,” stated Simoneau, referring to her now retired ex-duet partner Karine Thomas. As a pair, Claudia and I have different strengths than those I had with Karine. If we’re able to come in here, after 5 weeks of training together, and get a score of 89 with a routine that was not choreographed for us, I can’t wait to see what we’ll do with a routine that is tailor-made for our strengths.”

Also putting in long days at the pool are the two Canadian officials at the event, Laura Ealing (Winnipeg, MB) who has been judging, and Lianna Sottile (Ottawa, ON) who is a practice judge.

The Canadian support team has included Claire Carver-Dias, 2000 Olympic team member, who is the Synchro Team Leader, Michelle Comeau as assistant Team Leader, Katie Smith is the team physiotherapist and Margie Schuett has been the Canadian Aquatics Team Leader. Leading the coaching team are Leslie Sproule and Johana Vasquez with Jennifer Koptie as the apprentice coach.