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Russia retains synchro team gold at swim worlds

KAZAN, Russia -- Russia retained its team free program title at the world aquatics championships on Friday.

Russia excelled in front of its home crowd with a score of 98.4667 points, including two perfect 10s from the judges, comfortably beating second-place China with 96.1333.

Japan won a fight for the bronze with 93.9 points, only 0.2 more than Ukraine.

"We're all happy, just really happy," Russian swimmer Vlada Chigiryova said.

Russia entered the medal ceremony to loud cheers at the Aquatics Palace and high-fived the other medalists before jumping up and down on the top step of the podium.

Russia has won the event at every worlds since the team free program was introduced as a separate medal event in 2007. Russia coach Tatyana Pokrovskaya said the home crowd lifted her team.

"With this kind of support it all worked out," Pokrovskaya said. "The girls did great."

Friday's victory takes the host nation to seven gold medals of eight awarded in synchronized swimming at this year's worlds. The sole slip came when Christina Jones and Bill May of the United States won the mixed duet technical routine on Sunday.

China earned its seventh diving gold medal of the championships as He Chao won the men's three-meter springboard with a score of 555.05 points.

"It was an unbelievable final," He said through a translator. "Now I dream I'll be on the podium at the Olympics. I shouldn't rest on my laurels. I need to keep trying."

He started slowly, sitting fourth at the halfway point, but charged back to top the standings with his fourth dive and did not relinquish the lead again.

The silver medal went to Russia's Olympic champion Ilya Zakharov, who produced the dive of the competition with four-and-a-half somersaults on his last leap of the competition. That scored 106.40 for a total of 547.60.

"I'm really happy today," Zakharov said. "I fought till the end, and it didn't work out, which means I have something to work on."

Britain's Jack Laugher took the bronze with 528.90. Zakharov and Laugher each won their second medals of the championships after coming second and third respectively in the 3-meter synchronized competition.

"It's been an absolutely fantastic world championships for me," Laugher said. "It was a huge-scoring event and to finish third is a real privilege."

All 12 finalists earned places for their country at next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.