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Wednesday, August 25, 2004
U.S. team paid tribute to Greek mythology

Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- The Americans snaked their way to a synchronized swimming medal.

Alison Bartosik and Anna Kozlova earned a bronze in the Olympic duet final Wednesday night, finishing behind the Russians and Japanese.

Anastasia Davydova and Anastasia Ermakova won the gold with 99.334 points. Miya Tachibana and Miho Takeda took silver with 98.417.

Bartosik and Kozlova totaled 96.918 points for their tribute to Greek mythology that evoked a Medusa theme. They had snakes on their sequined green, gold and white suits and headpieces.

They created serpent images by intertwining their legs and arms in the water while the music "Gorky Park" and three other dramatic compositions blared on the loudspeakers.

The Americans climbed out of the outdoor pool to await their scores, then gave synchronized waves to the sellout crowd as a fan shouted, "Way to go, USA!"

Bartosik and Kozlova received technical marks of mostly 9.8 and 9.7, and their artistic scores were no higher than 9.8.

The red-sequined Russians scissor-kicked their way through a lively routine to "Don Quixote," popping out of the water at exactly the same time.

Davydova and Ermakova held up the red, white and blue Russian flag as their scores flashed on the board: three 10.0 marks for technical merit from the U.S., Ukraine and Swiss judges, and 10.0 marks from all five judges for artistic merit.

The Japanese duo, who have been competing together for eight years, jumped into the water, landing nearly on all fours, instead of the usual entry dive.

The 12 teams repeated their routines and music from the preliminary free competition.

Russia, Japan and the United States were the top three teams after the preliminary technical and free routines, and nothing changed in the final.

Spain was fourth all the way through, too. The Greek duo finished ninth among 12 teams.

Synchronized swimming is a judged sport, where marks often seem like they're based on a country's reputation as much as they are on what happens in the pool. It can take years for lightly regarded nations to move up in the rankings.

The Americans knew it would be nearly impossible to surpass the Russians and Japanese in Athens, so they set their sights on a bronze medal. Kozlova, of San Jose, Calif., and Bartosik, of Santa Clara, Calif., have been fourth at most international competitions since they teamed up three years ago.

The United States bounced back from Sydney, where they failed to win a medal for the first time since the sport was added to the Olympics in 1984. Kozlova was fourth in duet with a different partner four years ago. She sat out in 1996 after moving from Russia to the United States, and was fourth in the event competing for the Unified team in 1992.