Juneau duo takes 9th at U.S. Open

Synchronized swimmers Felix and Urata end season in top 10

Posted: Friday, July 15, 2005

Koko Urata is looking forward to spending a couple weeks in Montreal with her family while Sarah Felix can't wait to sleep in her own bed.

The two 15-year-olds from the Juneau Aurora Knights ended the competitive synchronized swimming season by placing ninth in the duet event Wednesday at the U.S. Open Championships in San Diego, Cal.

The duo from Juneau qualified for the 12-team final on Tuesday and went toe-to-toe with teams from China and Japan, and also the United States junior national team.

"We figured we couldn't do any worse than 12th," Urata joked. "We didn't have a lot of pressure on us so it was easy and relaxing."

The two surprised themselves by qualifying for the championship finals against some of the world's best competition.

After making it that far at the U.S. Open, both Urata and Felix said they felt very little pressure going up against some of the world's best junior athletes.

"We honestly didn't think we'd get into the finals," Felix said. "When we did, then we were planning on having a fun swim. I wasn't really nervous at all and normally I get pretty nervous. It was nice to get out there and have everyone to cheer."

The Chinese team of Li Na and Han Ying capture the overall title with a score of 83.503 out of 100.

The U.S. Junior National team placed second, a pair of Japanese squads finished third and fourth, followed by four straight teams from California.

Urata and Felix earned a 75.616 for ninth place.

"As soon as we finished our routine it was kind of bittersweet because that was the last time we'd ever do that routine," Felix said. "It was fun to actually do that and to do it well. It was a good way to end the season."

In addition to performing in the duet - or two-person performance - compeition at the U.S. Open, Urata did her solo routine before the judges Wednesday.

Urata finished 15th out of 63 junior competitors.

More importantly, however, Urata's score qualified her for the United States Junior Nationals competition.

"It was my first time every qualifying," Urata said of her solo routine. "For the solo, I enjoyed it but it's kind of slow music so it's hard to compare with the other girls. I was surprised how I did with the other swimmers."

As for now, both Urata and Felix plan on taking a couple weeks off before jumping back into competition.

Both swimmers plan on competiting for Juneau-Douglas High School's swimming team. The Crimson Bears' season gets underway on August 8.

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

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