TOKYO (AP) — Svetlana Romashina doesn't count gold medals.
She could be excused for losing track.
The Russian star claimed her record sixth Olympic gold in artistic swimming, teaming with Svetlana Kolesnichenko to win the duet Wednesday night.
The Russians were heavy favorites in a sport they have dominated for more than two decades. Their last Olympic loss in what was then known as synchronized swimming came at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Romashina had been tied with fellow Russians Anastasia Davydova and Natalia Ishchenko with five golds medals apiece.
Now, Romashina is in a class by herself.
“I don't count medals,” she said. “I just want to feel this moment.”
Swimming last out of 12 finalists to the music “Spiders,” the Russian pair came out in nude-colored suits with black arthropods splashed across the front.
They mimicked the crawling bugs on deck before diving in for a dramatic performance punctuated with fierce leg kicks. They also had a grueling line of underwater work without coming up for air.
“I think if a normal person tried to do it just sitting on the sofa, it would be difficult,” Romashina said. “If course, it is more difficult to do it in the water.”
The Russian pair received marks of 98.8000 for their free routine to finish with a score of 195.9079.
Romashina broke into a big smile when the “1” went up beside her name for the sixth time.
Five years ago, she teamed with Ishchenko to win the duet gold at Rio de Janeiro. Now she's won another with a new partner.
“Sometimes I feel like she is a sister,” Romashina said, with a smiling Kolesnichenko standing next to her. “I'm Svetlana, now one more Svetlana.”
The silver went to China’s Huang Xuechen and Sun Wenyan at 192.4499. They went with a snake-themed routine.
“We had another theme in the world championships, but our coach said we needed a theme that is more obvious," Sun said. “We were hoping the snake would beat the spider.”
Marta Fiedina and Anastasiya Savchuk beat out Japan for the bronze with 189.4620, giving Ukraine its first Olympic medal in artistic swimming.
This was the first Summer Games with the sport's new name.
After the 2016 Rio Games, world governing body FINA rebranded it to artistic swimming in hopes of giving a more accurate portrayal of what the sport is about and improving its appeal with potential sponsors and television partners.
It would probably help to have a more competitive field.
The Russians never seem to lose, and that's unlikely to change in Tokyo. They are also huge favorites in the team event, which would give them another sweep of the Olympic golds.
The 31-year-old Romashina has won every event she's competed in at the Olympics, world championships and European championships.
Paul Newberry is an Atlanta-based national writer and sports columnist covering his 14th Olympics. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and his work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry
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