Paris return excites in-form artistic swimmers

Murray Wenzel |

Australia’s artistic swimming team to compete in Paris is in top form.
Australia’s artistic swimming team to compete in Paris is in top form.

High scores and fond memories of a “beautiful” Paris pool have buoyed Australia’s artistic swimming team of architects, engineers, teachers and paramedics in the making.

The eight-woman Olympic squad, two of whom will also compete in the duet, was confirmed for the Paris Olympic Games on Friday in Townsville.

Tokyo Olympians Rayna Buckle and Kiera Gazzard return for their second Games, while Anastasia Kusmawan, Georgia Courage-Gardiner, Milena Waldmann, Margo Joseph-Kuo, Raphaelle Gauthier and Zoe Poulis will debut.

Australia’s artistic swimming team to compete in Paris was confirmed in Townsville. (Scott Raddford Chisholm/AAP PHOTOS)

The team includes athletes balancing full-time training and regular international competition with study in architecture, engineering, education and paramedics.

And, in a discipline dominated by Russia since Sydney’s 2000 Games, they’re doing it better than any Australian team before them.

Coached by Spain’s 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Paula Klamberg, the team notched their highest-ever score to finish eighth in the women’s team technical at February’s World Championships in Doha.

Carolyn Buckle and Kiera Gazzard (r) will compete at a second Olympics. (AP PHOTO)

They also won three medals at China’s World Cup last month and finished fourth in the team free discipline in the Paris Cup stop earlier this month.

“It’s so special,” Gazzard said. 

“To be able to share this Games with my family and use my experiences from Tokyo and give them to the younger girls who are doing it for the first time, is an honour.

“We’re training together all the time, our teammates are like family.

“The venue in Paris is beautiful. There’s skylights where the natural light comes in and there’s a bit of reflection on the ceiling.

“That was our last event in Paris before we return for the Olympics, so it’s looking good.”

Poulis posts incredible videos of her underwater talents that are watched by her 166,000 Instagram followers.

“Artistic swimming is such a mixture of grace and athleticism,” she said. 

“I love showing that off. The videos are different from our competition of course, but it’s cool that it can spark people’s curiosity and get more people interested in learning about our sport.

“It’s (the Olympics) something that I’ve been looking forward to in the distance for so long and now that it’s actually within reach, I can’t even believe it.

“Having a whole team of girls around me that are doing the exact same thing it just pushes me more and more every day. 

“It’s the greatest feeling ever when we nail a routine, you just know and it feels like our hard work has paid off.”

AUSTRALIAN ARTISTIC SWIMMING TEAM: Anastasia Kusmawan, Rayna Buckle, Kiera Gazzard, Georgia Courage-Gardiner, Milena Waldmann, Margo Joseph-Kuo, Raphaelle Gauthier, Zoe Poulis. Travelling reserve: Natalia Caloiero.