U.S. team paid tribute to Greek mythology

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

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

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.