A little about me...

My name is Mariya Koroleva and I'm a member of the U.S. Olympic Duet for the sport of synchronized swimming. I've been swimming for 17 years (yikes!) and I've been on the national team for 9. I graduated from Stanford University in 2013 and am almost finished getting my masters degree in sport management from the University of San Francisco. I love chocolate, cross stitching, scented candles and sunsets. Follow me on my journey to my second Olympics in Rio de Janeiro!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Free duet prelims

Hey everyone!
Yesterday was our first day of competition starting with the free duet preliminary. It feels like we just got here but are already competing, which is exciting and a little nerve wracking at the same time. We came to the competition venue this morning at 7:15 unsure of what to expect from the pool. The night before our evening training was cancelled because they were draining the pool and replacing the water with water from the practice pool. The organizers said that this should be done in time for warmup this morning but when we got there, the pool still wasn't filled up all the way, so practice with music was pushed back an hour. Instead of getting in right away like we were supposed to, Anita and I knoxed our hair and pinned our headpieces instead. The competition was still scheduled to start at 11am, but our draw was #22 out of 24 duets, so we still had about two hours after our warmup before we had to get in again. 

After doing a short second warmup, we headed to the last call room 3 routines before ours go get our makeup approved and do a think through of our routine. I think those minutes in the last call room are the hardest part of the Olympic Games. This is the time when you are trying to keep your muscles warm but your mind calm as you prepare to walk onto that stage. It is in those moments that you feel the gravity of what you are about to do: compete on the biggest international stage. It's hard to keep your mind off of the pressure to perform well. Especially for Anita and I, because we don't have a team competing here in Rio, we are carrying the weight of all of USA Synchro. We were both nervous before we swam but tried to just focus on the task at hand instead of the "big picture" of what this swim represents. Luckily, we got to swim in this pool when we competed here in March, so for me that made it a little easier because when we walked out on deck, the setting looked very familiar and I was immediately more comfortable. The swim itself felt pretty calm for me even though we only got to train in the competition pool once before. 

When we got our scores after our swim, Anita and I couldn't contain our excitement. This was the highest score we have gotten this season! Our coaches said there were still minor things we could fix for finals on Tuesday but overall they were very happy with our swim. It always feels good when your coaches are happy because ultimately, they are the ones who watch you every day and therefore are the best judge of whether or not you did your best. After the competition, we deknoxed and came back to the village for about an hour and a half before having to go back to the pool for more training 😱We were both pretty tired when we went back but knew that we had to practice our technical program for today. Our music time in the competition pool was at 8:15pm so we didn't get back to the village until after 9. I was a zombie by the time we got back! My social media accounts were exploding with many positive comments and encouragement so I apologize for not being able to respond to everyone but want to offer a sincere thank you to those who have written to us! We feel very supported from back home :)

Today we have another 5am wake up for the technical duet competition. Those of you who know me well know that I need my sleep to function well and so far I've only gotten 8 hrs of sleep once here in Rio. I am pretty much running on adrenaline and caffeine but we only have two more days of competition left! Time to leave it all in the pool! Here are a few photos people posted of us from yesterday:




Xoxo Mariya

Friday, August 12, 2016

Hello Rio!

We are FINALLY in Rio!! Anita and I have been anticipating this day for weeks now. We are the last synchro team to arrive, but what can I say...we like to be fashionably late 💁🏼 Our trip started by us waking up at 4am to take a flight from San Juan to Houston. We accidentally went to the wrong airport and ended up almost running through check-in and security to catch our flight but we made it! In Houston, we had an entire 12 hours to kill before our red eye to Rio, so what did we do? Go shopping of course! Anita and I even got Chinese massages in the mall to loosen up our muscles before getting on a long flight. My lady was literally sitting on top of me and digging her knees into my back but it felt amazing so I didn't mind. Then we came back to the hotel and did a gym workout and swam in the hotel pool, which felt more like a lukewarm bath than a swimming pool. I don't know what's worse - swimming in a pool that's too cold or too warm. Either way, it's uncomfortable. In this pool, I'm pretty sure I sweated out all of the water I drank that day in the 45 minutes that we swam for 😐

When we finally got on our flight to Rio, there were some other USA athletes from wrestling and track and field so we all exchanged the usual "when do you compete?", "how long are you staying" questions. After getting to Rio, we went straight to the village to drop off our stuff, eat lunch and...you guessed it, go to the pool for music practice. The village is beautiful and unlike London, it's pretty big so getting from our rooms to the dining hall to the buses is quite a walk. They even have a bus going around the village if you don't want to walk from one side to the other. 



The first photo makes it look like a resort doesn't it? Anita and I are sharing our little apartment with two girls from archery and trampoline. Here's my bed and the view from our window:



We haven't gotten a chance to explore any of the village yet and to be honest, we probably won't until we are done competing because our schedule is jam packed every day. Fortunately we have a few days before we leave to do all of the fun stuff, but right now it's all business. Again, we start competing THIS SUNDAY at 11am Brazil time so don't miss it!! I will write more about training and the pools in a later post. Let me know if you want to know anything specific about our experience so far! 


Saturday, August 6, 2016

Opening Ceremonies and Exhibition in Puerto Rico

Friday night marked the official start of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro! Unfortunately, Anita, Lolli and I did not get to walk in the Opening Ceremonies because we are still in Puerto Rico at our pre-Olympic training camp. We had an exhibition for the public Friday afternoon and considering the fact that we don't really know anyone in Mayagüez, we actually had a pretty good turnout! We took this opportunity to practice our competition warm up and perform in full hair and makeup. The weather here in Puerto Rico is pretty unpredictable, and literally right after we finished swimming the rain started to pour like crazy and thunder and lightning took over the sky. It was great to get some support from the local community. The lifeguards have been putting our music system, weights and mats out for us before we get into the pool every day (and sometimes sneak us candy after practice 😜) and everyone has just been very friendly and welcoming. 


After de-knoxing at the hotel, we drove to San Juan for a little Opening Ceremonies party. The Vega family was kind enough to host us at their home, where we watched the live stream of the Opening. Just to get in the USA spirit, Anita and I dressed up in our Ralph Lauren outfits and paraded around the living room when Team USA marched into the stadium. Of course, it's not the same as walking next to your teammates in a stadium packed with tens of thousands of people, but we still felt the adrenaline and excitement of the start of the Games. I remember the London Opening Ceremonies in 2012 and it was one of the coolest moments I've ever experienced. Walking around that stadium was overwhelming and exhilirating at the same time. It was almost hard to soak everything in because there was so much going on, but I remember thinking, "this is is it! I made it to the Olympics...my dream has come true", which is something I will never forget. 

I wish Anita got to have this experience too because it really is a once-in-a-lifetime event...but I know that a lot of the synchro athletes didn't get to go either and are arriving to Rio late like us. We still made the best of it and managed to have some fun with our "pretend walk" 😆



Unfortunately, we were so tired from waking up at 5am to knox that we only watched the parade of countries before we passed out...ohhh well. We only have two more training days in Puerto Rico before we start our long journey to Rio. We're making every day count!!