Road To The Olympic Games

Synchronized swimmers Jacqueline Simoneau, Karine Thomas named for Rio

With Pan Am gold and Japan Open silver behind them, Canada's two best synchronized swimmers set their sights together on the Rio Olympics — and perfecting an emotional routine.

Rookie pairs up with Olympic veteran in what coach calls 'incredibly talented' duo

Karine Thomas, left, and Jacqueline Simoneau qualified for the Rio Olympics after winning gold in the duet event at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. (Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Jacqueline Simoneau and Karine Thomas want to perform so well at the Rio Olympics that they make people cry. 

Simoneau, of Montreal, and Thomas, of Gatineau, Que., were officially named as Canada's duet team in synchronized swimming for the 2016 Summer games on Wednesday, donning their new team jackets at a news conference at Olympic House.

They will go to Rio in August armed with a new routine called Heartbreak they say is revolutionary in synchronized swimming for its emphasis on emotion and artistic expression.

They've even been working with an acting coach, Sebastien David from the National Theatre School, on movement and facial expressions.

Our free routine is completely new, never seen before in synchronized swimming.- Jacqueline Simoneau, 2016 Olympian

"We're trying to bring a different aspect to the artistic side," said Thomas, 27. "It's not going to be fake.

"We're not going to look like we're plastic dolls in the water. We want to look like we're real people living something very real. It's a heartbreak theme, the story of a heartbreak. And we want people in the audience to feel the way we feel."

The routine made its pubic debut May 3 at the Japan Open and earned a silver medal.

"The feedback was incredible," said Simoneau. "Our free routine is completely new, never seen before in synchronized swimming, especially in the artistic components. We're really leaning on that and hoping it brings us a step closer to the podium."

They will test it again July 15 at the U.S. Open in Riverside, Calif.

In Rio, they will take part in the duet competition, which is comprised of a technical routine and a free routine, each counting for 50 per cent of the final score. Their competition is scheduled to start Aug. 14, or Day 9.

"They will make Canada proud!" exclaimed their coach, Meng Chen, in a press release.

"They are both incredibly talented, they share a contagious passion for their sport and are 100 per cent committed to what they have decided to achieve in synchronized swimming," she said.

Simoneau, 19, and Thomas, 27, qualified for Rio at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, where they won gold in the duet event. 

The Games will be Simoneau's first. Thomas competed at the 2012 London Games, but in the team event.

With files from CBC Sports

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