Canada wins Pan Am gold, Olympic berth at artistic swimming
LIMA, Peru (AP) — After they soared with acrobatic skills in the water, Canada’s Claudia Holzner and Jacqueline Simoneau embraced Halle Pratt, who wept tears of joy when they won the artistic swimming overall team gold Wednesday at the Pan American Games and an Olympic ticket to Tokyo 2020.
“I’m just so happy now. It’s been a dream since I was a little girl,” said Pratt, whose father Jasen Pratt won a bronze medal in 400-meter individual medley swimming at the Havana 1991 Pan Am Games.
“My dad swam for the national team for a long time,” she said. “He went to the Pan Ams and won a bronze medal, but he never got to qualify for the Olympics, so this is really special.”
Canada swept the competition, winning duet and team as they did back at home in Toronto 2015, which was then known as synchronized swimming and not an Olympic qualifier. Mexico won silver and the U.S. earned bronze.
“We’ve swum this routine thousands of times,” Simoneau said. “So, I think we are able to put it on autopilot and really just enjoy the moment of being together.”
On their way to receiving their gold medal, the nine members of the Canadian team put their hands together in a circle and yelled ‘ya boys!’ a chant that they used throughout the tournament to lift their spirits before they dove in the water.
“Since we got here our coach randomly started calling us by boy’s names,” Pratt said, “Like a guy’s name in relation to what our real name is. So all week we’ve been going, ‘ya boys!'”
Holzner and Simoneau won the duet with a score of 180.0343 over Mexico’s Nuria Diosdado and Joana Jiménez’s 174.3661 points. Americans Anita Alvarez and Ruby Remati took bronze with 170.6698 points.
“It was such a special moment,” Holzner said. “Before we swam our coach Gabor (Szauder) was like: ‘Jackie, go for a second Olympics’, and ‘Claudia, become an Olympian’.”
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