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!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

T'was the night before finals...

Hey everyone! Tomorrow Mary and I compete in duet finals at the Swiss Open in Geneva. Our coach Mayu gave us a few extra hours of rest and I don't know what to do with myself! I'm so used to having only an hour or two before I have to go to bed that I don't know what to fill the free time with. I've called home, watched two episodes of How I Met Your Mother and Facebook stalked my friends....so it's time to write another blog update! :)

We've been in Europe for the last two weeks and it's been really busy. Right before we left Mary and I had the privilege of attending the St. Vincent Sports Performance Spirit of Sport Awards. It's an annual event that recognizes the accomplishments of high school athletes and coaches and this year Mary and I got to present the Creativity Award! It was pretty cool to hear about all of the great things the nominees have done for the athletic community. I was inspired to see high school students taking leadership roles and exceeding expectations on and off the field. Thanks St. V's for putting on such an amazing event! Here is a picture:

The day after, we flew to Mallorca, Spain to compete in the Spanish Open. I've never been there before but heard that it was a vacation hot spot. And after visiting it, I want to go on vacation there too! It's right on the sea, has cute little restaurants and shops and lots of sunshine. It was so tempting to throw on my bikini, grab a drink and run to the beach. But we were there for a competition so it was all work and no play. It was definitely not Mary and I's best meet. We just finished writing a new free program and this was our first time competing with it so it was a little rough. We didn't get the placement we wanted but it was a good learning experience. Not every meet is going to go smoothly, so it's important to know how to deal with disappointment. I always get frustrated after bad swims but Mayu has helped me a lot in looking at the big picture and focusing on getting back up and back to work.

Although Mary and I were able to come together quickly for the Pan American Games and win a silver medal, training for the Olympics is a whole different ballgame. We are competing against duets who have swum together for years and who have been on the international stage as a duet for a long time. We have a lot of catching up to do and not a lot of time to do it. It's frustrating sometimes but we try to use it as motivation to work quickly and efficiently. I think this is just the beginning for us as a duet and we will continue to grow and improve in the years to come.

The view on our ride to the pool

After the meet we went to CAR, the Olympic training center in Barcelona for two days. It was back to practice mode as we made some changes to both programs and continued to work on our endurance and synchronization. From then we traveled to Geneva, Switzerland for the Swiss Open. Two days ago we had the tech duet competition and we are currently in 1st place. Although our scores didn't reflect it, we had a much better swim than last week in Spain and were happy with our improvement. I know I keep saying this about every place I go to, but I love Geneva! It's close to France so everyone speaks French! Finally we are in a city where I can speak the language. Well, sort of. Since taking a break from Stanford my French has gotten pretty rusty so it's good that I am getting to practice it a little here. Something that is different about this meet is that we use public transportation to get to the pool. We take the tram for a couple stops and then walk along the river. It's actually pretty cool! Riding the tram makes me feel like I live in this city and walking is a good warm-up. I've been enjoying it a lot.

Our daily walk

Waiting for the tram

Everyone has been really nice and accommodating too. The food tastes homey and it's been a little more of a low-key meet which is just what I needed. Tomorrow we compete in the duet finals! I am excited to swim our free program again because it's improved tremendously in the last week. I want to have a good showing so it can give us momentum heading into the last month before the Games. On Monday morning we head back to Indy and then it's back to work! I love traveling and it's one of the perks of being an elite athlete, but I am ready to go home. I am a little concerned though because it's supposedly really hot in Indy right now and we don't have air conditioning in our duplex.... I have a feeling I will be moving my mattress downstairs because my room will be a sauna. Anyways wish us luck tomorrow and I will catch you all later!


P.S. Thank you for all of the encouragement!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

East to West Coast

During the last two weeks I've gotten the opportunity to travel to New York and California and both trips were awesome! In NYC my teammates and I did a press event for one of USA Synchro's sponsors Infusium 23. With the help of K Public Relations LLC we got to meet with beauty and fitness editors as well as bloggers and to answer their questions about hair, makeup, and training for the Olympics. After doing a short demo, many of the editors got in the pool with us and tried synchro! They were all so excited to learn new moves and weren't afraid to go upside down and even get lifted out of the water. I think they had some fun and so did we! Many of them were surprised to hear how much we practice and were very impressed when they saw us perform. They were also interested to hear how our makeup stays on in the water and what we do to keep our hair healthy. We shared some of our tips and tricks for not letting the chlorine get the best of our skin and hair and told them about what goes into our  daily training regimen. I think it was great to get this kind of exposure for our team and for Infusium! Here are a few of the beauty and fitness articles from the trip:




I loooooved being in New York City. From getting to talk to stylish beauty editors to walking the streets of the city, I got the "big city" experience. I would maybe like to live here for a summer. It would be fun to do an internship or something like that and get to live like a New Yorker for a little. Who wouldn't love having this view every day??

After a few days back in Indy, Mary and I went to my hometown of Walnut Creek, CA to participate in the Walnut Creek Aquanuts' Celebration of Champions. This is an annual fundraiser that the club puts on in the spring and this year they featured 3 Olympic duets - the U.S., France and the Czech Republic. It felt SO good to be back home. Mary and I stayed at my house during these three days and even though I didn't get to spend much time with my family, it was still really nice to sleep in my own bed and to be home. My parents and brother were so happy to have me home too, even if it was only for a short while. My brother actually showed me an essay he wrote about me in school and it was very sweet. He talked about how much he looks up to me and how proud he is that I am going to the Olympics. Reading that just warmed my heart and I am happy that I can be an inspiration to him.

I quickly realized that my skin was not used to swimming outdoors again. I had some pretty scary tan lines after the first practice and my skin hurt constantly. I guess that's what you get for being indoors for a year! But hey, I'm not complaining. I needed a little color. Mary and I shared the pool with the younger girls during our two days of practice and then on Saturday we performed both of our routines at the show. The Aquanuts decked the pool out in Olympic decorations and even hung up the Olympic rings on one end!

Swimming at Heather Farms felt just right and having a home crowd was even better. I had so many people come up to me to wish me luck and to congratulate me on making it and I felt a lot of support from the entire Walnut Creek community. The Aquanuts were great hosts and I am thankful to them for having us! The French and Czech duet also swam very well. I enjoyed watching their routines and seeing some of the things they excel at.
The three Olympic duets

My parents and many of our family friends came to watch me swim and I am forever thankful that they've continued to believe in me over the years and that their support and love has always been there for me.
My brother Ivan and I after the show :)

Unfortunately we didn't get to stay after the exhibition to sign autographs and mingle because our flight left for Indy that night. Mary and I barely made it on the plane and my hair was still knoxed, I had full synchro make-up on and was too tired to even care about the strange looks we were getting at the airport. I just wanted to get back to Indy and sleep! Now that I've regained some of my energy I am looking forward to tomorrow's practice and the St. Vincent Spirit of Sport Awards we are attending tomorrow night. Then we are off to Spain and Switzerland on Tuesday! Wish us luck at these two competitions!

Lots of love,

Thursday, June 7, 2012


A few weeks ago Mary and I went to Chicago to participate in the Olympic Ambassador Program which was put on by the U.S. Olympic Committee. We talked a lot about how to prepare mentally for the Games and what to expect from the experience. I learned a lot from the program and I had a good time! One of the things that was brought up in the discussions was the fact that going to the Olympics is about so much more than just you. It's about representing your entire nation, your sport, your friends and family, everyone who has ever supported or inspired you. It's so cool to think that I am a part of something that is so much bigger than myself. I am not going to the Olympics just for myself, and not by myself. I'm going to have the entire U.S. delegation with me along the way, and an entire country's support behind me. I love that feeling. It reminds me of the end of the "Amazing Awaits" poem that says "with a nation behind us, and a world in front of us, and within us all, amazing awaits". Just that one saying inspires me to put in the work every day, even when times get tough. It's the feeling of responsibility to be a good ambassador for my sport and for my nation that drives me to push myself and make myself the best athlete I can be at the Olympics.

There are many sources of inspiration for athletes, and another one of mine is the young girls who participate in synchro. Last weekend I went to the Indy Synchro water show and I had the best time. It's awesome to see younger girls who do synchro because they love it so much and have so much passion for the sport. This generation of swimmers is the future of synchronized swimming and when I watch these girls I know that synchro in the U.S. has a bright future. The girls from Indy Synchro has been so supportive to our team this past year and it's great to have them around. They inspire me to be a good role model for them and for young swimmers all over the country. What inspires you as an athlete? As a person?

Mary and I have a very busy month ahead of us. We just went to New York City for a press event (which I will write about soon), next week we go to California for an exhibition and then a few days after we go to Spain and Switzerland for two competitions. It's going to be a whirlwind of a month so it's really time to get focused and put all distractions aside.

Love, MKor

My teammates and I with some of the Indy Synchro girls.