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Cuban Synchronized Swimming Girls: New Music, More Movement for Toronto 2015

Cuban Synchronized Swimming Girls: New Music, More Movement for Toronto 2015

Posted by Miguel Ernesto on March 31, 2015

Synchronized swimming made its debut in the Mexico edition, 1955, of the Pan-American Games. Ever since, North American and Canadian athletes have prevailed in this sports discipline; while the Cuban team has barely climbed to the podium in five editions, the last one took place in Havana, 24 years ago. Will these girls win another medal in Toronto, this summer? It seems to be a difficult goal; nevertheless, the girls trained by Niurka Leyva will be competing in an effort to be at least near the final group.

During the Central American and Caribbean Games held in Veracruz in November 2014, the Cuban team didn’t win any medal, but it qualified for Toronto. After the event on Mexican soil, the team was restructured and, according to Leiva, the team is now made up of duo Cristy Alfonso (16 years old) and Melissa Alonso (15 years old); while 12 young athletes are competing to enter the 8-swimmer team that will be participating in the Free Swimming and Technical Swimming events at the Canadian city.

“Over the past months of training we have introduced new music and raised the difficulty level of the exercises, since these elements gave us a lower score in Veracruz Central American Games. We’re working on every exercise as a separate element, asking the athletes for more effort, in order to master every technical element so we can obtain results between 6.0 and 6.9. In Toronto we’ll try to stand among the eight finalists. We know that winning a medal is a very hard task because the event is going to be at the highest level and everybody knows how young our athletes are”, Leyva said and pointed out some difficulties that are being faced by the swimmers during training sessions.

“We’ve had problems with the swimming pools to train. We can’t develop all of our movements because we have to share the facility where we’re training. Furthermore, the athletes are very tall and they touch the bottom of the pool, with a negative impact on the work with the technique. We need to get our sound system back, as we’re only counting and we haven’t been able to complete the routine, but we’re optimistic despite of all these elements. We apply variants and strongly believe that we’re going to have positive results”, Leyva expressed.

Cristy Alfonso is one of the main figures of synchronized swimming in Cuba. “Toronto will be my first edition of the Pan-American Games and my second multi-sports games. I’m very happy because I’m going to participate as a duet and with the team. I’m presently training hard for the duo with Melissa. The communication between us is great. We restructured the routine, raised the difficulty level of the movements and included Cuban music. I hope everything is going to be fine”, the young athlete explained.

Melissa Alonso is her duet partner, who also participated in Veracruz Central American Games. “We have an excellent communication and we’re working hard to do it right in Toronto. Before going there, we’ll have the CECECAN tournament, which will tell us how we’re doing”, Alonso underlined.

The last time Cuba won a medal in synchronized swimming, during the Havana Pan-American Games, it was the team discipline. In Toronto, the average age of the team is 16, with short competitive experience, so the possibilities of winning a medal are low, but the girls are very optimistic.

Jennifer Quintanal is one of the “veterans”. She’s been a member of the national for six years, so she has met several athletes. “This is a very young team that was trained last year for the Central American Games. We’re all looking forward to taking synchronized swimming in the country to the next level and I believe that we’re doing great with the support of our coaches. Toronto Pan-American Games are going to be very difficult. There are many elements to be improved in the team, such as the speed, difficulty level, but we’re doing our best”, she confidently answered.

17-year-old Dilian Marrero is very excited about traveling to Canada and participating in the Pan-American Games. “Our performance was acceptable back in 2014, in Veracruz, because we qualified. We want to make it bigger now. It’s going to be very nice to stand for my country and we’re all doing our best to rank among the eight finalists”, this girl told us.

Shortly after the Pan-American Games, Cristy Alfonso and Melissa Alonso are going to travel to Kazan, Russia, so as to participate in the World Championship, in solo and duet modes.

By M. Gómez with Y. Masó

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