Synchronized Swimming Duo Bringing Home Another Gold

ReutersDavydova and Yermakova performing during their free routine on Wednesday.
BEIJING -- Russia's reigning Olympic champions, the "two Anastasias," defended their synchronized swimming duet title on Wednesday with an almost perfect routine swum to the strains of Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt suite.

Anastasia Davydova and Anastasia Yermakova said their victory was harder than their first Olympic title, although they scored a perfect 10 for technical merit from all five judges.

"It's very difficult to stay at the top, somehow even harder than getting to the top," Yermakova said. "What we are talking about is hard work. No slacking ever."

The pair is unbeaten at a major championships since finishing second at the 2001 worlds.

In Beijing, with their free routine score added to a commanding lead from Monday's technical routine, they easily claimed gold with 99.251 points.

Russia won both duet and team at the last two Olympics. This year's team event will be contested on Friday and Saturday.

Spain's Gemma Mengual and Andrea Fuentes, who have made synchronized swimming popular in a country more usually fixated on soccer and basketball, secured silver with a free routine that won the only other perfect 10 of the final.

"The Anastasias have been a point of reference for us ... they are incredible," Fuentes said.

Japan's Saho Harada and Emiko Suzuki took bronze.