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United States Takes Off Like a Rocket

July 31, 1996|Times Wire Services

Swimming to "When the Saints Go Marching In," the U.S. synchronized swimming team worked the toughest part of its program to perfection. It performed the required rocket splits it had struggled with in practice almost flawlessly to take the lead in the technical round.

The rocket split entails thrusting the legs out of the water, followed by a rapid split and rejoining to a vertical position.

The Americans earned three perfect 10s, two for technical merit and one for artistic impression, in their score of 99.2. They were the only 10s awarded by the panel of 10 judges.

"It felt just amazing. We were feeling each other in how the movements were going," said U.S. team member Becky Dyroen-Lancer, a World Cup solo champion.

Canada, with a routine that earned two 9.9s and three 9.8s for artistic impression, was second after the technical program at 97.933. Japan was third with 97.667.

Technical scores count for 35% of the total score that will determine the first gold medal in the new Olympic team format. The team event replaces solo and duet, which had been in the games since 1984.

Five-minute freestyle programs, which will count for the rest of the scoring, are Friday.

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