"Finally!": in Rome, men dive into the deep end of artistic swimming

“Finally!”: in Rome, men dive into the deep end of artistic swimming

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Roma (AFP) – In Rome, the European Artistic Swimming Championships gave rise to a great novelty with the first men’s solo events, a “historic” and “magical” moment for the pioneers of the discipline who hope to see their sport gain momentum. magnitude.

“I want to say + Finally! +”, breathes Virginie Dedieu, the former triple French world champion in synchronized swimming. “There’s no reason it can’t exist.”

History will remember that it was the Italian Giorgio Minisini who, at the age of 26, became the first solo European champion by winning the technical event with 85.7033 points, ahead of the Spaniard Fernando Diaz del Rio (79.4951 pts) and the Serbian Ivan Martinovic (58.8834 pts).

“It was very important to be here, for the judges to finally see men compete in this event. It was a historic moment, and I can’t wait to see how far our sport can go now. To be among the first guys to take part in this event, it was magical”, reacted Minisini.

“I take this gold as a starting point for me and for the whole movement,” he added to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

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For the Italian, who swam his first ballets at the age of four, artistic swimming is a family affair. His mother Susanna De Angelis is a former synchronized swimmer and his father Roberto Minisini a former international judge in the discipline.

Mixed duo since 2015

He was already present in 2015 when synchronized swimming was opened up to diversity for the first time. It was at the Kazan Worlds in Russia where the International Federation had inaugurated a mixed duet category. American Bill May or Frenchman Benoît Beaufils were among the pioneers.

It was then a major innovation for this sport, often associated with grace and elegance, qualities supposed to be rather “feminine”.

“We always say blue for the boys, pink for the girls, or dance for the girls and judo for the boys. Well, no, we can do everything in fact,” says Virginie Dedieu.

On Sunday, Minisini will have the opportunity to win a second medal in the free solo event. Among his rivals, Quentin Rakotomalala is also a fan. “He’s someone I admire a lot so it’s funny to swim in competition with him,” says the 19-year-old Frenchman, who started artistic swimming by following in his sister’s footsteps.

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“I used to swim race at the base and I loved seeing its galas and its competitions. One day, a coach offered me to try because she saw that I loved it and that I came to all the galas,” he explains. “(What I liked) was the artistic side, the dance side. I’ve loved water since I was little. All that mixed together, it was something really made for me.”

He admits, however, that the gaze of others has sometimes weighed on him. “Today it’s better but when I was little, I saw incomprehension, questioning in people’s eyes.”

“If you want, go ahead, go for it”

“Sometimes I was ashamed to say I was doing it, so I would say I was just swimming. I was hanging out with kids who didn’t understand that a boy could do a girl’s sport. But now I assumes completely”, he continues.

On Sunday, he will put on his pince-nez to swim to the sound of the melancholy music of Benjamin Clementine on a program evoking his progression in artistic swimming.

He will have a real chance of medals since only four competitors will be lined up due to the low density of the discipline at the moment.

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The creation of this category and its broadcast on television within the framework of the European Championships can create vocations, want to believe the actors of artistic swimming.

“It’s an opportunity to tell (to little boys) that it’s possible. If you want to, go ahead, go for it”, smiles Virginie Dedieu.

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