From the opening acrobatic highlight when flyer Audrey Joly was thrown into the air, tumbled twice and dove perfectly into the water, right through to the final hybrid at the end of the routine, Canada’s artistic swimming team members, who were all swimming in the team event at the Olympics for the first time, knew they were headed for a great performance at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Weaving dance moves into the Hip-Hop & Rap themed routine, the Canadians scored 91.4992, a full two points higher than their previous best score from the 2019 FINA World Championships. The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) leads the team competition, followed by China, Ukraine and Japan.

Co-Captain Andrée-Anne Côté, 23, from St-Georges, QC, described the feeling for the team: “We have this thing amongst ourselves that we call ‘Blue Fire’ which depicts a fire that is full of energy, but it’s calm at the same time. That’s how I felt today during our performance. As we were swimming, I caught myself a few times thinking ‘we’re swimming at the Olympics’, but I was able to remain calm and I had this feeling that we were working together as a team.”

Joly, 23, from St-Eustache, QC, was nervous for the all-important first highlight, as she really wanted to nail it. “ But when we walked on, I also felt some of that blue fire energy, and even though I was nervous I felt we were walking on as a team. When I said on the deck ‘let’s do it’ I really felt that was a great start to the swim and it all went well from there.”

“I could feel from warm up that everybody was really ready to go,” said Emily Armstrong, 20, from Toronto, ON. “We had an amazing warm up and I think everybody felt that going into the swim. When we walked on you could tell the whole team was ready to go. And it was amazing to feel the hard work all pay off.”

For the youngest member of the team, Rosalie Boissonneault, 18, Drummondville, QC, it was a special moment. “When we did our walk on and I saw the rings on deck I couldn’t help but think wow – we’re really here! It was an incredible experience!”

Camille Fiola-Dion, 23, from Rimouski, QC. was also nervous before the swim “but when I walked on deck I became calm and I was confident that we would work well together and have a good performance with great team work and that’s what we did today!”

Halle Pratt, 21, Calgary, AB. described the experience as they prepared to swim, “as soon as we got into our circle in the last call room, I could tell everybody had really good vibes and energy and I was super excited  and really proud of everything we’ve done to get here. It’s not an easy journey and I’m just so proud of everyone and what we were able to pull out in the pool. It’s really great!”

The two members of the team who swam to a 5th place finish in the Duet Competition earlier in the week, paid tribute to the team who had practised without them for a few days. Co-Captain Claudia Holzner, 27, said, “Jackie and I have been really separated from the team for the last few days due to the duet performances. They’ve done the work the past week to make sure everything was nice and calm… and then we fit in just perfectly into the little holes in the pattern. I had goosebumps going down my neck during the swim. It was the best swim we could ever have asked for at an Olympic Games!”

Jacqueline Simoneau, 24, summed up the experience: “I’m so incredibly proud of this team. Just before the swim seeing the fire and excitement in each one of their eyes, it just fueled me up in the performance. The words of encouragement beforehand just united us in the whole entire swim. I don’t think we could have asked for better!”

The reserve member of the team, Kenzie Priddell, 24, from Regina, Sask. cheered on the squad from the pool seats.

The team event concludes on Saturday, August 7th with the Team Free Routine.  The scores from both routines will be added together to determine rankings. The event starts at 7:30 pm in Japan, 6:30 am (Eastern) and 3:30 am (Pacific).