As the members of the Canadian artistic swimming team touch down in Doha this evening for the 2024 World Aquatics Championships, they will walk off the plane with the quiet confidence of a team that is ready for what’s ahead and united in its shared goal: qualify for the Paris Olympics.
With less than 6 months to go before the 2024 Olympics Opening Ceremony, the World Aquatics Championships, atypically held in February because of a series or COVID-related postponements, will serve as the last chance Olympic Qualifier for many sports, including artistic swimming. At stake are 5 spots for teams, and 8 spots for duets.
The Canadian squad is set to arrive in Doha after completing a week-long training camp in Poland. This strategic stop allowed them, in addition to adjusting to the time zone, to fine-tune their preparation and reinforce the unyielding team dynamics that has defined their cohesive unit.
“The Poland Camp was a huge success by all standards, from the hotel, the amazing facility and especially the warm welcome by local club AZS AWF Poznán Synchro,” stated CAS Chief Sport Officer and Head Coach Kerri Morgan. “We were able to work hard and concentrate on the task at hand, and we leave here ready for the competition.”
The World Championships will feature, as it usually does, separate events for the team technical, team free and acrobatic routines. In each case, there will be a preliminary round followed by a final for the top 12 finishers the next day.
Because the acrobatic routine will be part of the Olympic program in Paris for the first time, it will also be included in the qualification process in Doha. Apart from the individual results for each team event, the qualification rankings will be based on the aggregate score of the 3 events and will therefore not be known until the Team Free finals at the end of the competition.
There will be a total of 10 teams at the Olympics, 5 of which having already qualified through their respective continental Championships (Australia, China, Egypt and Mexico) or by virtue of being the Olympic Host (France). The remaining spots will be given to the top 5 teams in the final aggregate World Championships results that are not already qualified.
Team Canada, who came third at the recent Pan American Championships, will enter the event looking to move up in the rankings to secure its spot as it battles with Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Spain, Ukraine and USA.
“Our team is feeling very proud and capable heading into these World Championships,” said team co-captain Kenzie Priddell, from Regina. “We’ve worked really hard and taken some very big steps forward these past few months. There is so much trust and support within this team, we believe in our abilities, and we are ready to shine in Doha.”
As with the team events, the duets will feature separate events (technical and free programs) that will be combined to determine Olympic qualification.
In both the technical and free programs, veteran Jacqueline Simoneau, who took part in the 2016 and 2020 Olympics in duet, will be paired with 18-year-old Audrey Lamothe, who stormed onto the international scene last year as Canada’s soloist, finishing 4th in the solo free event at the Fukuoka 2023 World Championships. Audrey’s partner at the Pan American Games, Olena Verbinska, will be the alternate.
Simoneau, who was Lamothe’s idol as a kid, has been thoroughly impressed with her new duet partner as they prepared for this week. “I just couldn’t be prouder of Audrey. She has surprised me every single day in training, and I just can’t wait to compete on the international stage with her.”
5 of the remaining Olympic duet spots will be granted to the teams that qualify in Doha unless they have already qualified through their continental championships. The remaining 3 spots will go to the highest-ranking pairs not already qualified.
The solo events will mark the return of Jacqueline Simoneau, competing for the first time under the new scoring system rules. Already an established international soloist before she paused after the Tokyo Olympics to concentrate on her studies in podiatric medicine, Jacqueline is entering the competition with her sights set on a podium finish.
She will be presenting 2 brand new routines that have been tailored to highlight her many strengths and showcase her amazing technical abilities. The benefit of experience (she owns over 70 international medals) allows her to enter the event with a calming serenity that will allow her to enjoy the experience to its fullest.
“I’ve always loved solo, and I’m just having a blast,” commented the athlete from St-Laurent, Quebec. “Doing a send-off show in Poland before leaving for Doha completely reignited my love of swimming, and I just can’t wait to compete my routines.”
The athletes who will be representing Canada at the 2024 World Aquatics Championships are:
Sydney Carroll (Saskatoon, Sask.)
Scarlett Finn (Toronto, Ont.)
Laurianne Imbeau (Quebec City, Que.)
Audrey Lamothe (Montreal, Que.)
Jonnie Newman (Calgary, Alta.)
Raphaelle Plante (Quebec City, Que.)
Kenzie Pridell (Regina, Sask.)
Alicia Rehel (Mirabel, Que.)
Claire Scheffel (Brantford, Ont.)
Jacqueline Simoneau (St-Laurent, Que.)
Florence Tremblay (Rimouski, Que.)
Olena Verbinska (Aurora, Ont.)
Where to watch
All finals from the Doha World Aquatics Championships will be webcast LIVE on the CBC Sports website and the CBC Sports app. Preliminary events will be available to watch from the World Aquatics pay-per-view platform for a minimal cost.
For full schedule and links to webcasts, see our World Championships page.