Anastasia Davydova (RUS)
2017 Honor Synchronized Swimmer
FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 5 gold; 2004 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (duet, team); 2008 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (duet, team), 2012 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (team); WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: 12 gold, one silver; 2001 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (team), silver (duet); 2003 World Championships: gold (duet, team); 2005 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (duet), 2007 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (duet technical, duet free, team free, 2009 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (duet technical, team free), 2011 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (team free, team technical); EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: 7 gold.
Her first sport was figure skating. Then she saw rhythmic gymnastics on TV and she left the ice for the ribbon and mat, but not for long. At the age of six, her mother took her for swim lessons where she was exposed to synchronized swimming. She immediately loved the sport. Early on in her career, she was tested by her coach to see if she was really serious about synchronized swimming. She was asked to give up her favorite foods of chocolate, cakes and chips. She loved the sport more, gave the foods up and the rest, as they say, is history.
In a sport that usually forces athletes to be patient as they build international reputations, Anastasia Davydova did not have to wait very long to move to the top. At age 15, she was paired with Anastasia Ermakova (2015 ISHOF Honoree), because they were very successful at the junior level and judges were familiar with them by the time they became seniors. At their first major senior international event, they placed second in duet at the 2001 FINA World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan. The next year they performed a nearly flawless routine, including five perfect 10’s in the final free program, to win the European Championships. At the 2003 World Championships in Barcelona, Davydova and Ermakova won their first senior world duet title; the Russian team was also victorious. Davydova won team and duet at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Athens in April 2004 and the European Championships in Madrid in May 2004. At the Olympic Games in Athens, Davydova and Ermakova won gold in the duet with an impeccable routine, scoring a perfect 50 for artistic impression (receiving a score of ten from all five judges). In the team event, they also won gold, even after a music malfunction required them to repeat their performance.
Leading up to the Beijing Games, Davydova, Ermakova and the Russians were unbeatable, winning every event they entered. In Beijing, the pair again won duet gold, earning a combined score of 99.251 and perfect 10’s for technical merit. The Russian team also won, leaving Ermakova and Davydova with a record four gold synchro medals.
After Ermakova retired, Davydova began training with Svetlana Romashina, but after the pair won at the 2011 FINA World Championships, Davydova stepped aside in favor of Natalia Ishchenko to focus on the team event, her studies at the Moscow Institute of Economics, Politics, and Law and on coaching youth at her local club. When she announced her retirement after winning gold in the team event at the 2012 Olympic Games, she also announced that she would turn her energy to coaching. She wanted to be part of keeping the Russians on top of the podium. She did just that at the 2016 Rio Olympics where Russia won both synchronized swimming gold medals.
In 2010, FINA declared her the best synchronized swimmer of the XXI century and in 2012 she was the standard bearer of the Russian Olympic team at the closing ceremony of the Games in London.