Personal Best: Stanford duo balancing academics, swimming 

Olivia Morgan and Maria Koroleva have performed together since they were 13.

The teammates will be representing host Stanford in the duet event at the U.S. Collegiate Synchronized Swimming Championships, which run Thursday-Saturday at the Avery Aquatic center.

Born two days apart in April of 1990, the duo achieved early success with the Walnut Creek Aquanuts. In 2003, performing together in Gainesville, Fla., to Spanish-themed music complementing their Zorro-themed routine, they won the national championship for their age group. The young women continued to swim and win together, including the 2008 junior national championship routine event when they were high school seniors.

Stanford coach Heather Olson is delighted with her talented sophomore duet team.

“Olivia and Maria are remarkable young women balancing a grueling schedule at Stanford with their national team commitment,” Olson said. “I am extremely proud of how they are handling themselves under the load.”

With the honor of being selected for the U.S. national team comes the increased pressure on their already full lives as student-athletes.

“We study very late at night,” Koroleva said. “You just have to figure out time management and how to do things efficiently.”

Their athletic styles are as different as their backgrounds. Koroleva, a native of Russia who moved to California at the age of 9, is described by Olson as a gifted technical athlete “whose strength has always been height upside down.”
Morgan, a lifelong Contra Costa County resident, is in Olson’s estimation, “a very artistic swimmer with great range of motion, energy and expression in her upright swimming.”

At collegiate nationals, they will be swimming this season’s “witch’s duet,” choreographed to a “haunting” sound track. The routine resulted in victory at the team’s first two meets this season: Jan. 30 at Lindenwood University in St. Louis and Feb. 14 versus Arizona at Stanford.

The athletes are excited with the home-pool advantage of the collegiate championship.

“We’re swimming in front of our family and friends,” Koroleva said. “It gives us that extra energy we need during our routines.”
The pair seems to be in sync in and out of the pool.

“Olivia and I have been swimming together for so long, we have that connection,” Koroleva said. “There are definitely times when we finish each other’s sentences.”

Her duet partner completes the thought: “There are times when we go to weight training and we’re wearing the same outfits,” Morgan said. “People laugh a little bit at us and think that we plan it, but we don’t.”

The two chuckle in unison.

Splish, splash

What: 34th annual U.S. Collegiate Synchronized Swimming Championship
Where-When: Stanford University, Thursday-Saturday
Team to beat: Reigning and 25-time champion Ohio State
Also competing: 200 athletes from Division I, II and III collegiate programs
Tickets: www.gostanford.com or at the Avery Aquatic Center gate

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Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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