TORONTO – Despite the bitter disappointment of being replaced at the last minute in the duet competition of synchronized swimming at the Pan Am Games, Tonawanda’s Anita Alvarez still left Toronto on Saturday night “ecstatic” about the bronze medal she won in the team event.
“This is my first big international meet like this with all sports and all the countries,” said the former Kenmore West student, who moved to California in 2013 to pursue her goals of Olympic glory. “The Pan American Games is really exciting. It has been a great experience. Winning a medal on my first time here at only 18 years old is such an honor. It feels great. All the hard work has paid off.”
Nonetheless, Plan A was to leave with two medals. In June, it was announced that Alvarez would pair up with Mariya Koroleva, with Alison Williams as the alternate. But Alvarez said “personal health reasons” – which she declined to elaborate on – meant that she could only manage one event, and everyone involved agreed it was best for her to focus on the team discipline and skip the duet. Koroleva and Williams took the bronze in the duet.
Alvarez and the rest of the team flew on Saturday night to Malta, where they will train for the World Championships being held in Russia in a couple of weeks. Alvarez said she expects to be fully healthy for that competition, where she plans to do both the duet and the team. Before heading off to the airport, she was able to quickly show off her medal to all her supporters who drove to Toronto.
“It was great being so close to home,” she said. “Just the environment, it feels like home. A lot of family got to come out and watch and it was just really exciting to see my family and the girls from my home club,” the Tonawanda Aquettes, “in the stands.”
Canada won gold, and Mexico silver, in both the team and duet.