By Mike R. Pesarchick, News Sports Reporter
Two former Tonawanda Aquettes swimmers have taken potential next steps toward the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Natalia Vega and former Olympian Anita Alvarez are expected to participate in the 2019 FINA World Championships, scheduled for July in Gwangju, South Korea. Vega will compete in the Mixed Duet, and Alvarez was among four swimmers selected to compete for the Duet team.
Vega, a Puerto Rico native, swam for the Aquettes from 2012-2014 before moving to California to join the Santa Clara Aquamaids. Currently a junior at University of Incarnate Word in Texas, she took third place in the 2014 U.S. Open Synchronized Swimming Championships.
Vega will partner with Bill May, 39. May, a pioneer in synchronized swimming who returned to the sport in 2015 after a 10-year hiatus, has won four medals in past world championships.
“It feels so good to know that all the hard work I’ve put into the sport is paying off and I get to show the world what I’m capable of,” Vega said. “I am so grateful that I get to swim and learn from the best male synchronized swimmer. I cannot wait to see what the outcome of this journey will be.”
Alvarez, a Kenmore native, and three others will compete to make the 2019 FINA championships. A final duet and a reserve will be chosen for the event.
If she is chosen, Alvarez will also compete in the 2019 Pan-American Games in Lima, Peru, and the 2019 Synchro America Open in May. The duet also could take part in the Olympic Qualification Tournament in Tokyo in May 2020, if necessary, and then on to the 2020 Olympic Games if the team qualifies.
Alvarez began her synchronized swimming career with the Aquettes when she was in high school. In 2013, she made the decision to move to California and join the U.S. Junior National team.
After training with the team, she was moved to the Senior National Team. In 2016, she was chosen for the U.S. Olympic team with California native Mariya Koroleva. The duet placed ninth overall in Rio.