With a third straight Personal Best score in their Olympic competition, Claudia Holzner, 27, (Calgary, Alberta) and Jacqueline Simoneau, 24, (Saint-Laurent, Que.) finished in a strong fifth place in the Artistic Swimming Duet event at Tokyo 2020.
The two improved on their Preliminary Free Routine score by almost 2 points, scoring 93.0000 for the Free Routine Final. When added to their Technical Routine score, their total was 184.4798.
The duo achieved their goal of moving up two placements in the world rankings, and it was Canada’s best finish in duet since the 2012 London Games when Marie-Pierre Boudreau Gagnon / Élise Marcotte were fourth.
The gold medal went to Svetlana Kolesnichenko / Svetlana Romashina from the Russian Olympic Committee. China’s Xuechen Huang / Wenyan Sun took the silver and the bronze went to Marta Fiedina / Anastasiya Savchuk of the Ukraine. Japan’s Yukiko Inui / Megumu Yoshida finished ahead of the Canadians in fourth place.
The postponement of the Olympics for a year due to the pandemic added many challenges to the duet’s preparation. The two persevered, quoting a Taylor Swift song that they ‘built a castle out of the bricks thrown at them’ in preparation for today’s results. “Just never giving up on something that wasn’t even possible a year ago. PB’s (Personal Bests) three days in a row!,” exclaimed Claudia Holzner “We knew going into the free routine final that we needed to stay calm. We needed to breathe ….so that we could keep the power the whole time through. We did that today and we left it all in the pool!” Jacqueline Simoneau added, “In terms of expectations we didn’t put it on score or ranking. We put it in terms of performance. If we were able to swim a strong and synchronized swim like we did today, we’d be pleased. We definitely met those expectations, and the marks came with it!
From Canada, Jackie Buckingham, CEO of Canada Artistic Swimming, noted a remarkable improvement in their performance level in a short time frame. “Even with missing training and some competition preparation as a result of Covid-19, Claudia and Jackie worked so hard to increase the power, strength and difficulty in their routines to push their scores up. We all shared this triumph with them. It was so inspiring to witness their absolute joy in representing Canada so proudly in this amazing Olympic sport.” She also commended the support team around the duet who worked with them to achieve this tremendous result.
Both Holzner and Simoneau will join their team-mates in the team competition. It gets underway Friday, August 6th at 06:30 ET with the Technical Routine. Canada will swim 7th in the now nine-team field. That event concludes on Saturday August 7th with the Free Routine.