Russia holds 2-point lead over synchronized swimming duets; USA 9th

Russia holds 2-point lead over synchronized swimming duets; USA 9th

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NBC Olympics.com – Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina, the 2012 Olympic champions from Russia in the synchronized swimming duet, hold a significant lead after Sunday's preliminary free routine.

Ishchenko and Romashina tallied a near-perfect 98.0667 points with their mermaid-themed routine, a full two points ahead of their nearest competitors, Huang Xuechen and Sun Wenyan China. Yukiko Inui and Risako Mitsui of Japan currently sit in third with 94.4000 points. Spain's duet of Ona Carbonell and Gemma Mengual – who came out of competitive retirement at age 39 for the Rio Olympics – sit in fourth place and are still in the hunt for a medal. Carbonell and Mengual represent Spain's only chance for a synchronized swimming medal in Rio, as they shockingly failed to qualify a full squad for the team event even though their team earned a bronze medal in London.

If Ishchenko and Romashina add to their collection of three Olympic golds in Rio with a gold in the duet and a gold medal in the team event – identical to their 2012 London Games haul, as they are heavy favorites – they can tie the record for most decorated synchronized swimmers with their countrywoman Anastasia Davydova.

Team USA's duet of Mariya Koroleva and Anita Alvarez finished the free routine preliminary with 86.4333 points and are in ninth place headed into Monday's duet technical routine.

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