Belgrade 2024: Dutch twins triumph with historic gold in Duet Free, Spain secure third gold

Published On: June 12, 2024

Credit to: European Aquatics

By Christina Marmet

Day three of artistic swimming at the European Aquatics Championships Belgrade 2024 was one for the history books, with the Netherlands claiming its first gold medal in the duet event and first European title in nearly 50 years, while Spain bagged a third gold thanks to a brilliant performance in the Mixed Duet Free.

The battle for the European title in the Duet Free event was an intense one, with three Olympic-bound pairs chasing a historic gold in the waters of the Sports and Recreational Center Milan Gale Muškatirović.

Ultimately, it was Bregje and Noortje de Brouwer of the Netherlands who clinched the top spot and claimed their first gold on the European stage.

This also marked the first duet gold for the country in the sport, and the first European title in 47 years.

Credit to: Aniko Kovacs/European Aquatics

Reigning World silver medallists, the Dutch twins had already placed first in the preliminaries and repeated the same confident performance to claim the title with a 264.6584 for their “Van Gogh” choreography.

“We cannot believe we are European champions, not yet,” Bregje said. “This gives us a lot of energy for Paris, but we are still keeping some things for the Olympics of course. We are not done yet!”

The twins hadn’t competed since the World Championships in February, as Noortje was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes shortly after Doha, limiting her training for a few weeks.

While she’s back to her normal regimen, she and the entire Dutch staff wanted to use these European Championships to understand what would happen in a competitive setting to be best prepared at their second Olympic Games.

“To be honest, our goal was not to fight for medals here,” Noortje said. “Yes, we wanted to show more difficulty than in Doha, but we also wanted to test what was happening with my sugar levels in this competition. We are so happy with everything, and that we could finish first again after the preliminaries.”

Credit to: Aniko Kovacs/European Aquatics

There were no weather delays this time for the World bronze medallists Kate Shortman and Isabelle Thorpe of Great Britain.

After winning European bronze in 2023, the Tokyo Olympians earned silver in Belgrade with a score of 261.0313.

The British athletes had increased their Degree of Difficulty (DD) by 1.20 for this final and handled it seamlessly in their “Rising Phoenix” routine.

“This medal feels really good,” Thorpe said. “It was a good experience to swim our free duet, because we haven’t competed it since Doha.

“So just to get out there and do two swims was great. Obviously yesterday, the conditions weren’t perfect because of the storm, and we had to wait two hours until we could swim, but it was a good learning experience. Hopefully nothing like that will happen in Paris!”

Credit to: European Aquatics

Shelly Bobritsky and Ariel Nasse of Israel claimed bronze – the country’s first European medal in duet – with a score of 245.6105.

The two had declared the highest DD of the field with 48.50 for their “New World” routine and received full credit for it.

The Israelis were thrilled about this medal, and what it meant for them heading into the Olympics, which will be Bobritsky’s second Games.

“We are very excited,” Bobritsky said. “We came with this goal to win a medal in these European Championships.

“We are very happy and proud that we could perform our degree of difficulty, that judges could appreciate it and that we increased our score from the preliminaries.

“Of course, our eyes are set on the Paris Olympic Games, but this is a good thing to check off our list. We are working on new things for Paris, so prepare yourself for something interesting.”

Credit to: European Aquatics

The next set of medals was for the Mixed Duet Free, where Spain collected its third gold of the European Championships.

Just like at the last edition in 2023, this podium saw Spain, Italy and Great Britain, albeit with slightly different athletes collecting the medals.

In Belgrade, Spain’s mixed duet managed to successfully defend its title by a very small margin of 1.1688, scoring 189.7938 for its “Hip Hop” routine.

While Dennis Gonzalez Boneu had been in that gold-winning mixed duet in 2023, this is Emma Garcia Garcia’s first European title.

She has been a part of the Spanish mixed duet since 2019 and has already won five European silver medals in this event.

I am so excited, proud, and really happy for my duet partner as well,” she said. “It took a lot of years for me to have this gold and this title, finally I could achieve it.

“I just thought about my grandpa who’s in the sky and who is always with me. This medal is for him.”

Credit to: Aniko Kovacs/European Aquatics

Filippo Pelati and Flaminia Vernice of Italy scored 188.6250 to claim silver at their first appearance at a senior European Championships.

The two 17-year-olds have however been gaining experience and competing extensively on the World Cup circuit this season.

Swimming to the theme of “Orpheus and Eurydice”, they secured a back-to-back silver medal for their country in the event.

“It’s the first year that we swim together and that we compete at the European Championships, so we are really happy about this result,” Vernice said. “We know we can do better because we got one basemark today, so we are a little bit upset about it, but we are really happy about our score.”

Credit to: European Aquatics

Beatrice Crass and Ranjuo Tomblin won bronze and gave Great Britain its second medal of the day.

Bronze medallists in 2023, the two confirmed their place on this European podium with a score of 175.1563 for their “Black Panther” routine.

“We got no basemarks, which was our main goal for this competition,” Tomblin said. “We are really happy and glad that we could achieve that.

“For me, I just wanted to swim my best. I didn’t really have any high expectations of myself because I missed months of training with my back injury.

“Obviously it was very hard for Beatrice as well who had to train by herself a lot of time. It was a difficult start of the season, so this bronze feels very good.”

In the morning, four countries participated in the Team Free Preliminary, and all will move on to the final scheduled for Friday afternoon.

Greece finished first with a score of 216.7375 for its “Warrior” routine. The Greeks had declared the highest DD of the field with 55.20, and even though they received five basemarks, their score was still strong enough for the lead.

Great Britain lies in second with a score of 210.0686, while Italy sits in third with 193.0709.

The Italians notably received the highest artistic impression score of the day, but had six basemarks, which dropped their difficulty down tremendously.

Türkiye will join these three nations in the final.

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