Juneau duo takes 3rd at synchro competition

Synchronized swimming team of Felix and Urata place third at U.S. National Age Group Championships in Buffalo, N.Y.

Posted: Sunday, July 03, 2005

Juneau's synchronized swimming duo of Sarah Felix and Koko Urata claimed third place at the 2005 United States National Age Group Championships in Buffalo, N.Y.

Felix and Urata, both 15 years old, took third place in the 16-17 year old age bracket duet division in the competition, which finished on Saturday.

"We did our best," Urata said. "I think we were a little jet lagged. We didn't have our best, but we were happy with our performance."

The duo represent the Juneau Aurora Knights Synchronized Swimming Club which is based locally at Augustus Brown Pool.

Felix and Urata arrived in Buffalo on Monday and started their competition on Wednesday.

The four-hour time difference coupled with the break-neck speed of their schedule created a whirlwind competition for the duo.

"I think we knew that we could've done a little better," Felix said. "In our routines, I think we had high energy but we were just so out of it. We kind of did our thing. I think we probably could've done better but I'm happy with what we did and our figures."

The Juneau pair scored a 75.930 in the competition as they battled duets who were one and two years older than them. California's Riverside Aquettes took first place while the Arizona Aqua Stars edged the Aurora Knights for second.

"The team from Arizona, we didn't know how good they were and, of course, we knew California has tough competition and we knew they were going to be there," Urata said. "Actually, I was very impressed [with the Arizona team.] They improved a lot."

In addition to the duet competition, Urata competed in the solo synchronized swimming event and earned 10th place.

Urata said she performed to a relaxing and soft piece of music, a stark contrast to the dramatic performances of her competitors.

"My solo is a little bit of a slower pace but I was happy to get in the top 10," Urata said. "I was very surprised."

The Aurora Knights dizzying U.S. tour continues today as the duo board a place bound for Seattle to train.

Felix and Urata will then travel to San Diego to compete in the U.S. Open starting July 11.

The duo, who captured fifth place in last year's U.S. Open, will compete against duets ages 14-to-18 and from nine different countries.

Urata plans on this year's U.S. Open to be especially competitive and intense with a deep and talented field of performers.

"This year the U.S. Junior National Team will be there and there will be even harder competition," Urata said. "I heard there's going to be some 76 duets there so it's going to be quite harder."

• Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at sports@juneauempire.com.

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