Artistic Swimmers, Jacqueline Simoneau, and Claudia Holzner established a pre-swimming regular routine to calm their nerves when they joined forces as an artistic tandem. It involves a declaration of trust and a reference to a Disney character.

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Artistic Swimming – Canada has gained a place with a duet gold in Olympic 2020

Simoneau, of Chambly, and Calgary’s Holzner combined to defend Canada’s artistic swimming duet title Wednesday at the Pan American Games and earned Canada a spot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the process.

The Canadian duet finished first with a total score of 180.0343 points. And Mexico was second with 174.3661 points scores, and the United States was third with 170.6698 points scores.

“It was such a superior moment,” Holzner said. “Before we swam our coach was like, ‘Jackie, go for a second Olympics,’ and ‘Claudia, become an Olympian.'”

Simoneau and Holzner payback to the pool later Wednesday as part of Canada’s nine-swimmer team in the competition, with another Olympic berth on the line, and took the top of the platform for the second time with 179.6731 points. Mexico took the second position with 175.1243 points and the U.S. scored 170.8114 points.

Simoneau and Holzner, who were both followers of Canada’s gold-medal winning team entry at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, started swimming together as a duet in 2017. Simoneau said she and Holzner came up with a unique pre-swim routine the moment of their partnership was fashioned.

“We hold each other’s hands and we look each other in the eye and we say, ‘I trust you.’ And then there’s a secret word that we say right before we go.”

“We came up with this the moment we started swimming together. It’s a ridiculous word, but for us, it just means having calm confidence. It’s Perry. Perry the platypus. It’s a TV character on the Disney show “Phineas and Ferb.”

Canada's Artistic Swimming a duet
Artistic Swimming – Canada has gained a place with a duet gold in Olympic 2020

Canada swept artistic swimming events at the Toronto Games, with Simoneau and Karine Thomas gained duet gold to go with the team victory. Simoneau and Thomas went on to place seventh at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Later Wednesday, gymnast Ellie Black of Halifax added to her record Pan Am medal haul with a silver medal in the women’s beam event, her fifth medal this year. Black won 10 medals from the last two Tournaments to become Canada’s most adorned Pan Am gymnast.

Black had a chance at an 11th medal but finished fourth in the floor competition. There was extra good news for Canada, though, with Brooklyn Moors of Cambridge, Ont., winning gold.

“It’s unbelievable to come away with one more medal,” Black said. “It’s great for this team that we’ve done so well.”

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