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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Leaves Its Rivals Floundering

APRussia performing in the synchronized swimming team technical final at the world championships in Melbourne on Wednesday. Russia won the gold.
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Free combination. Solo technical. Duet technical. Team technical. Sounds technical, but it's all pretty clear here -- the Russians are queens of the synchronized swimming pool at the world championships.

Team Russia won its fourth straight gold in the temporary pool at Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday -- the team technical involving eight swimmers.

Dressed in bright yellow, blue and orange costumes, Russia scored 99.000 points to finish well ahead of silver medalist Japan, with 97.833. Spain took the bronze with 97.167, China was fourth and the United States fifth.

Russia won the free combination Sunday, Natalya Ischenko the solo technical on Monday, and Anastasia Davydova and Anastasia Yermakova the duet technical on Tuesday.

Maria Gromova, who picked up her gold with her Russian teammates Wednesday, said there can never be too many medals.

"There's always space on the wall for another one," she said. "We always have more goals ahead of us to work toward."

And it will likely get better for Russia -- Davydova and Yermakova led the preliminaries Wednesday for Friday's duet free final, and the Russian team is heavily favored in the team free on the closing night Saturday.

The Russians' only roadblock to a sweep of seven golds could come from French star Virginie Dedieu, who made an impressive return to the pool in the solo free preliminaries and is favored in Thursday's final.

With only four months to prepare for the worlds after coming out of retirement, Dedieu scored three 10s and finished with an overall score of 99.000 points in the preliminaries Sunday.

Earlier Wednesday, and barely 15 hours after Davydova and Yermakova won their golds in the duet technical, the pair were back in the pool in the preliminaries for the duet free.

Davydova and Yermakova, swimming fourth of 36 teams Wednesday, received a score of 98.833 to lead all qualifiers. It was exactly the same score they achieved to win gold in the duet technical.

"We did very well, our performance was fantastic," Davydova said. "We focused on our technique a lot in training."

There were also some familiar faces in second and third on Wednesday -- the Spanish and Japanese swimmers who won silver and bronze in the duet technical Tuesday.

Gemma Mengual Civil and Paola Tirados Sanchez of Spain were second Wednesday with 98.000, and Saho Harada and Emiko Suzuki third with 96.833 in the preliminaries.

China was fourth and the American team of Christina Jones and Andrea Nott was in fifth place with a score of 95.667.

Jones and Annabelle Orme were fifth in the duet technical, but Jones decided to switch partners and compete with Nott in the duet free.

"I think everyone here wants to experiment with their team and switch it up to give everyone a chance," Jones said. "Annabelle is much better technically."

This is the first year that FINA has awarded medals in both technical and free combination events, but Russia has maintained its status as the dominant team in both formats.

"The split has made judging nonobjective," Yermakova said earlier this week. "When one medal involves both the technical and creative aspects, it makes for a more difficult performance, and a more realistic judgment."