Cover: Jacqueline Simoneau (left) and Karine Thomas (COC/Vaughn Ridley)

The veteran and the kid are going to Rio.

At 26, synchronized swimming Olympian Karine Thomas and 18-year-old partner Jacqueline Simoneau won the Pan Am duet competition, nabbing the one available Rio spot. The pair entered Saturday’s free routine finals with a healthy lead from their technical routine, two days ago.

Jacqueline Simoneau (left) and Karine Thomas react after their free routine final at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games, the pair won the gold medal and an Olympic spot. (Photo: CP)

Jacqueline Simoneau (left) and Karine Thomas react after their free routine final at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games, the pair won the gold medal and an Olympic spot. (Photo: CP)

“We were pretty nervous heading into it, just because of how hard the routine is,” said Thomas afterwards. The gravity of the situation was accompanied by thunderous cheers from a full house, many waving Canadian flags, at the Pan Am Aquatics Centre and Field House. “It’s bigger than you could ever imagine,” said Simoneau, “The loud cheer just before we go and the loud cheer when we finish…it’s an incredible experience.”

How it works

In synchro, the duets do a technical routine which must include required elements…this is a boring word for awesome things like ‘Airborne Split’ or ‘Back Pike’. Competition amps up during the ‘Free Routine’ when anything goes. Swimmers can break out various figures like the ‘flying fish’, ‘stingray’, even the ‘albatross twirl’. At TO2015 there were no preliminaries and finals for each routine, since only 12 teams entered.

“As soon as I saw that number one I was thinking ‘Oh my gosh the Olympics'” – Jacqueline Simoneau

The Canadians scored 90.0000 points on Saturday, creating a gold medal total of 178.0881 points. Mexico’s Karem Achach and Nuria Diosdado were second with 170.7800, while Mariya Koroleva and Alison Williams of the United States earned 166.3876 points to win the bronze medal.

Thomas and Simoneau are travelling to Russia tomorrow to take part in the FINA World Aquatic Championships, commencing July 24th.