Synchronized Swimming may not be one of the more popular sports in the United States, but Mariya Koroleva and her partner Mary Killman are out to show their country and the rest of the world that they belong in London. The pair qualified for the duets portion of the synchro competition at the London Olympic Games. The passion both Mariya and Mary show for their sport is like a breathe of fresh air.
1. As a first time Olympian, aside from competing, what are you most looking forward to in terms of the experience of being in the Olympics?
I’m excited to get in that Olympic atmosphere and around all these people that have accomplished so much.
2. Throughout your career, did the accomplishment of participating in the Olympic Games always seem attainable?
I was never one of those swimmers that were amazing when they were really little. I wasn’t one of those prodigies, as we call them. When I was about 14, my coach told me I had the potential to go to the Olympics, so that’s where my dream of going to the Games was born. Ever since then, I’ve just been working to be in this position to go to this event.
3. Is representing the US in the Olympic Games the highest accomplishment for an athlete?
Definitely. Because, if you think about it, professional athletes have sponsors, they get paid a lot, but they don’t get to represent their country abroad and at the Olympic Games, which to me is the highest level of competition anyone can achieve. You can go to Super Bowl’s or World Cup’s but the Olympics is one of a kind and to be in that group of people that gets to compete in these Games is really incredible.
4. In your eyes, as a top competitor in your sport heading into London, is winning Gold simply a goal, or is it the only option?
I think for Mary and I, we’re not so much looking for a placement or a Gold medal. We’re really just trying to work hard every day and just have the best competition we can. At the end of all of this, we want to look back and say we did the best we possibly could to swim well at these Games. To me, that would be so rewarding.
5. Is there a special camaraderie that exists between fellow Olympians? If any member of Team USA were to win a medal, would it be as if you won it as well?
Yea, I definitely agree with that. Once you’re at the Games, you are one big USA family. If one of your fellow team members wins a medal, everyone is going to be excited and I’m going to be ecstatic for them because we are all kind of in the same boat here.
6. Synchronized swimming is a sport that requires a great deal of training between body strength, stamina, being able to hold your breath underwater, and so much more. Yet it doesn’t generally get the recognition it probably deserves. Does that ever bother you? How do you stay motivated?
It’s tough, people ask us if we float around and wear flower caps, so I think there’s definitely a big misconception about what goes into the sport. I do think getting all of this media coverage, and people coming into our practices and trying synchro and they video it and everyone is so amazed at how much work we put into it, how much we can do in the water. I definitely think it’s becoming more popular in the US. It’s getting to be more well known, and that’s great. Whatever Mary and I can do to push the sport in that direction, we’re going to try to do it.
7. We mentioned body strength and stamina being so important in your sport. What types of training do you do?
Training is pretty hard. We train about 8-10 hours a day, 6-7 hours in the water and the rest on land doing weight training. We do a boot camp type of class, we do extra cardio. There’s a lot of land training, but most of our training is in the water and I think that’s the hardest part because if you are a land athlete you can rest, stand or sit down, in the water we are always moving even when we are suppose to be resting, so we are pretty much doing activities for seven hours straight.
8. How important is it to be close with and know your partner and teammates both in and out of the water?
It’s really important. Outside the pool, you get to know your teammates a lot better and just on a different level. It definitely helps that we all live together and we all see each other pretty much 24 hours a day. I think it definitely translates to the pool because you know different quirks to everyone’s personality so you can better work together as a team.
9. You will be competing in the duets portion with partner Mary Killman, but Team USA did not qualify for the team event. How disappointing was that?
It was extremely disappointing, it’s hard. When you’re little you dream of going to the Olympics with your team, with seven other girls and to have it just be me and Mary now, don’t get me wrong we are extremely thankful to be in this position, but it’s sad for all of these other girls who many of them I’ve swam with for a long time and their Olympic dream has grown alongside mine, so to see them fall short is really disappointing and heartbreaking.
10. Russia, the defending Gold medalists from 2008 and current World Champions, appear to be the favorites. What can the world expect from the partnership of you and Mary? And how confident are you that you can medal, or possibly even win Gold in London?
I’m confident that we are going to have a really solid performance. We are writing a new program and I think it’s really going to showcase the American spirit that we have and I think we are honestly going to surprise a lot of people. I’m excited to just go out there and show them what the US is made of.
We will continue our 2012 Team USA / London Olympics Interview Series all month leading up to the start of the Games. Find all the interviews and more Team USA coverage on the DoubleGSports.com Team USA page.