RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - With routines revolving around mermaids and gypsies or played out to the backdrop of a megalopolis, Russia's synchronized swimmers flawlessly soared out of the water to win even more gold for the sporting powerhouse at the Olympics.
Russia's team won their fifth consecutive Olympic gold medal, while Svetlana Romashina and Natalia Ishchenko collected their second consecutive gold in the duet category.
"We're exhilarated because the competition is over and the outcome is the best we could dream of," Ishchenko said after emerging from the pool at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre on Friday.
Russia has collected all the synchronized swimming gold medals since the Sydney 2000 Games thanks to its competitors' graceful moves, athletic performance, and fun routines.
The latest haul brings the current star duet's total number of golds to five - a symbolism not lost on them.
"Like the Olympic rings!" a delighted Romashina told Reuters under the sizzling Rio sun.
Fresh from their triumph, Romashina and Ishchenko will now take a break to ponder whether they want to keep competing.
"We will think about it, because we are very tired," said Romashina.
A farewell from the esteemed Russian pair would be a boon for competitors from China and Japan, who won the silver and bronze medals in the team competition.
Similarly, in the duets, China's Huang Xuechen and Sun Wenyan pocketed silver while Japan's Yukiko Inui and Risako Mitsui took bronze.
Brazil's team, meanwhile, finished sixth as they were backed by a raucous crowd.
The routine that perhaps best showcased Russia's seemingly instinctive stranglehold on the discipline, however, was its duet emulating mermaids.
"We're really comfortable in this performance," said Romashina, adding that they are often teased about having gills.
Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer; editing by Ken Ferris