Synchronised Swimming Success

In the February edition of Tomorrow, we featured on the front cover the synchronised swimming duo, Beatriz Gonçales, 24, and Cheila Vieira, 25, and interviewed their coach Sylvia Hernandez Mendizabal. At that time, they were training to qualify for the summer Olympics held in Paris. They spent up to 40 hours per week at the Lagos em Forma pool to rehearse for the qualifying event. 

Through their hard work, Sylvia and the two girls brought immense pride to Portugal by securing 11th and 15th positions in the International Competition in Budapest, in 2023. This significant accomplishment bolstered their chances at the Olympics. The trio honed their skills in the Lagos pool, preparing their physical and mental capacities for the great opportunity that awaited them.

The difficulties faced

Coach Sylvia Hernandez recognised that qualifying had become more competitive due to the reduced number of duets allowed. It had previously been 24, but now only 18 could qualify. Along with the degree of difficulty being increased, this meant the margin of error had become exponentially larger and more challenging. 

Qualifying for the Olympics

In Qatar, the girls performed incredibly well. Their overall performance was nothing short of spectacular, but they were marked down on one small detail in the choreography. They had almost qualified but during the tech duet, they needed to avoid a base mark, which means even the smallest mistake will cost you dearly. So if you are trying to do a 360º turn, you cannot get 359º, which gives you zero. Heartbreakingly they made a small error in the last second of choreography, which took them from 9th to 16th and this stopped them from attending the Olympics. Sylvia told me; “All the other teams were crying with us.” The setback was undoubtedly disappointing for Beatriz and Cheila, but the Algarve community remained far from disheartened, standing firmly in support of their local heroes. 

“The girls wanted to keep fighting,” says Sylvia, which is why they decided to try the European championships. 

Second chance

On 16 June, they had another chance of glory at the European Aquatic Championships in Belgrade. “We were 16th in the ranking a couple of years ago, so the improvements have been beyond our wildest dreams. But we had good energy and positive thinking, and we fought for a medal,” says Sylvia. They did not disappoint. Although they did not get a medal, they finished fourth in the technical duet for their ‘Rodeo’ performance. The artistic swimming competition allowed them to showcase their incredible skill and passion for their sport. This high accomplishment will justify all the support from Portugal, particularly Lagos, where they are local heroines. 

What the future holds

This year, a new president of the federation will be elected, which might change the rules that have punished them so far. But for now, the girls are having a rest before they decide on their future. We are sure we will hear of many more great achievements from them.


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