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July 31, 2007 > USA Synchronized Swimming wins double Gold at 2007 Pan American Games

USA Synchronized Swimming wins double Gold at 2007 Pan American Games

Ten member squad top heavy with Californians and Bay Area swimmers

By Biff Jones


Led by East and South Bay swimmers, Christina Jones of Fremont and Andrea Nott of San Jose, USA qualified for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China in both the Team and Duet competitions of synchronized swimming. For the first time, Gold Medal winners of the 2007 Pan American games held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this month became automatic qualifiers for the Beijing Olympics.

Jones and Nott won the Duet Gold Medal with Canada taking Silver and host Brazil the Bronze. The duo then joined six other members of the USA Synchro Team to come away with Gold in the Team competition. Again, Canada was the Silver Medalist and Brazil the Bronze Medalist.

Other members of the ten member Team USA squad are Brooke Abel, Fallbrook, CA, Janet Culp, Littleton, CO, Kate Hooven, Pleasanton, Becky Kim, Walnut Creek, Meghan Kinney, Mission Viejo, Annabelle Orme, Walnut Creek, Jillian Penner, Seattle, WA and Kim Probst, Troy, NY.

USA has won Gold in Pan Am duet every year since 1955 except 1979 and 1999, and Pan Am team Gold every year since 1963 except 1983 and 1999. Canada won Gold in the years that the U.S. did not.

Olympic Gold is another story as the last USA team Gold came in 1996 in Atlanta when Team USA scored a perfect Ten to win the Team event. Prior to 1996, the Olympic Synchro events were solo and duet in which the U.S. excelled. For the 1996 Olympics, the solo and duet events were dropped from the competition and the team event was added. The duet competition was reinstated in the 2000 Sydney Olympics to go along with the team event. Since 2000, Russia has dominated both duet and team with Japan always winning Silver. The Bronze has primarily been a battle between USA, Canada and Spain.

Lately Japan has shown signs of coming back to the pack, taking home Silver with smaller margins of victory. It is more difficult to move up the ladder in synchro than in the other subjective sports, such as figure skating, gymnastics and diving, as the judging is influenced by who performed best the last time an international meet was held. After the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, all of the USA team retired, as did the 2004 team, so Team USA has struggled to move back up the medal ladder.

Behind the leadership of the "young rising superstar," Jones, who swam for the Santa Clara Aquamaid's 11 and under team in 1996, and the "wily old vet", Nott, who swam for SCA's 12 and 13 team in 1996 and was Team USA's alternate in Athens, 2004, the new version of USA Synchronized swimmers hopes to get at least a Bronze in 2008 Beijing, if not Silver. Gold however, may be a bit of a stretch. Work hard ladies, as I know you will, and go for it all next year.

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