Before heading to the 2012 Olympics, Mariya Koroleva returned to her roots Saturday night.
The Walnut Creek native performed with her synchronized swimming duet partner Mary Killman of Texas before more than 200 people who gathered around the Clarke Swim Center
The Olympic-bound duo were the headline performers at the "Celebration of Champions," a showcase and fundraiser for the Walnut Creek Aquanuts.
The French and Czech Olympic duet teams also performed as did the various championship teams from the Aquanuts.
Koroleva, 22, was an Aquanut from 1999 to 2008. She also attended and graduated from Her family now lives in Concord.
"It's so cool to be back," said Koroleva. "Walnut Creek holds a special place in my heart."
It was Koroleva's first visit to the pool where she trained since she and Killman qualified for the London Olympics in April. They are the only U.S. synchronized swimming representatives in the Summer Games this year.
The duo leaves for London in late July. The Olympic synchronized swimming competition begins Aug. 5.
"I'm so excited to go," said Koroleva. "I put 15 years of work into this. It's nice to know all the sacrifice was worth it."
Koroleva was supposed to graduate from Stanford this semester, but she took a year off to train for the Olympics.
There are 24 duet teams in this year's Olympics. Koroleva and Killman finished seventh in the qualifying competition. The pair, who met while competing together on the national team, hope to move up to the top three and win a medal.
Julie Simonelli, the publicity chairwoman for the Aquanuts, said it's a thrill to have Koroleva return home.
"It's very special," she said. "It's exciting to have her here."
Despite 100-degree heat at the start of the event, a large crowd attended. There was barbecued food, drinks, merchandise and a live auction. Simonelli said the Aquanuts hope to raise $20,000 at this year's celebration.