The Hungarian synchronised swimming team are looking forward to the 17th FINA World Championships with high hopes since being a young team the members of the roster have never attended locally hosted international tournaments (only as young synchro swimming pupils). The members – of junior age at that time- were selected two years ago, in 2015, then in the course of a 2-year highly intense training process led by internationally renowned Russian head coach Natalia Tarasova they have been preparing for the World Championships to be held this summer in Budapest. The girls had to overcome initial difficulties deriving from new training methods, expectations, but after the storming phase the workflow became smooth and effective.
„Being the head coach of the Hungarian team means a lot to me, it is a privilege to lead the hosting team at the World Championships. I am doing my job to the best of my knowledge in order for the girls to improve and to release their full potential. I aimed at enhancing their technique with the help of my experience gained in Russia. There children start learn hand movements under water continuously from childhood, they learn how to raise their body high since it is based on sculling primarily. Sometimes I myself jump in the pool to show them what to do under the water to raise movements higher. They have improved a lot by now” –Natalia Tarasova gave us insights into technical matters.
Although 2012 Olympic synchro swimmer Szofi Kiss retired from diving earlier she has returned specifically because of Natalia. The most experienced member of the Hungarian team will enter solo, duet and team events in the City Park. Two years ago she had no clue synchro swimming would feature her everyday routine again:
„When I heard the news that Natalia agreed to lead the team as the new head coach I contacted her and started training again. Beside requiring strict, hard and disciplined work Natalia turned our group into a coherent team. There are no disparities, we are close friends now, we organise programmes together, help each other and it makes me happy. When we come to trainings it feels like our second family.”
According to Luca Rényi Natalia is like a second mother to the girls: „When it comes to work, there is no mercy and friendship, but once it is over she becomes like one of us and we almost forget she is out head coach. She is a great selfie queen, she is into taking selfies even more than us.”
Such selfies and happy faces first appeared last year when they achieved their first breakthrough. Their improvement was clearly demonstrated by their scores gained at the European Junior Synchronised Swimming Championships hosted by Rijeka and then at the World Championships for age groups in Kazan. At that time, they made up some of the routines to be executed at the World Championships in Budapest, that is when they first tried certain team figure elements.
„We learned and practised totally different movements than before” – told Dóra Anett Schwartz, member of the Hungarian team who will enter duet and team events, as well. „Earlier patterns were way more spacious, we were far from each other. Now, on the contrary, we are so close that sometimes we have blue and green spots all over our body because we tend to hit and kick each other. Yet patterns are way more spectacular this way, there is great harmony among us, we can count on each other.”
The girls took a long rest in summer 2016, then they started a rather intense period of training aimed at improving their physical fitness and their technique as well as creating and learning new choreographies. The team has been training together five hours a day for a year and a half now. Their goal is to executive their 4-minute programme (created by the coach team of Sára Tiringer and Petra Árkovics together with Natalia and the girls) perfectly.
The Hungarian team has put together a unique routine specifically for the World Championships. The head coach found it important to rely on Hungarian motives, music and movements when creating solo, duet and team routines, since swimmers shall represent home country, Hungary.
„It was an exciting process to create the routine, we watched and observed Hungarian folk dancers closely to see their characteristic movements. We intended to create the routine in line with Hungarian folk dancing traditions and chose music accordingly. We hope the audience will enjoy both the music and the choreography and the girls will manage to do their very best” – told Natalia Tarasova.
Obviously, girls started out the 2017 competition season in light of the World Championships. The team entered an event in March again at the German Open in Bonn, then gaining new professional experience they went on a 11-day training camp to the island of Syros, Greece.
Their next significant tournament was the Japan Open hosted by Tokyo, where the team entered all 6 events with the fully developed routines for the World Championships. The team was quite successful which was also demonstrated by their scores, much higher this time than at the German Open.
The following stop of the Synchro World Series in Spain featured the Hungarian team, too. The girls performed the best routine of the season in Las Palmas: their scores of 79.1 in the free team routine and 80.43 in the duet free routine are quite promising a moth ahead of the World Championships. The duet of Szofi Kiss - Anett Schwarcz executed an excellent free routine on the last competition day breaking the magical 80-point limit. It marked an important milestone in preparation for the home World Championships. The third placement of Szofi Kiss in solo is also a great achievement, she could stand on the podium with world class Spanish swimmer Ona Carbonell and Ukrainian Anna Voloshyna.
„The World Championships mean a lot to me, one gets to perform in front of home crowd rather seldom. This summer is particularly important for me since it marks my great return to sport, what is more, I feel I have a much better form now than 5 years ago at the Olympics. As a member of the national team I wish to contribute my skills and show what this sport has given me” – Szofi Kiss said about her feelings.
Before the World Champs kick off there are plenty of preparatory competitions for the girls to enter, there is no point guessing results, yet the girls could write sports history if they had the chance to perform their routines in the morning finals in a rather strong field at the World Championships. Rather than scores the girls focus on executing their routine so that after the event Natalia Tarasova would say the two magical words: „good job!”
The temporary arena established in the City Park will stage synchro events, finals will be held before noon while semi-finals will take place early evenings. Gold medals can be claimed in 9 synchro events at the World Championships and this will be the last tournament under the old rules and regulations. New rules will be determined at the FINA Congress in Budapest.