LONDON A routine playing on folk themes and military music took defending champions Russia to the top of the synchronized swimming scoreboard after Thursday's technical round, leading a group of eight teams battling for Olympic gold.
World champions Russia, who have won Olympic gold in the team segment of synchronized swimming since the Sydney Games in 2000, scored 98.1 points out of a possible 100 for their technical routine, in which teams of eight swimmers dance a sequence that includes a list of required moves.
These points will be added to Friday's "free" routine, which is made up of moves of the team's own choice, for final scores.
China, who narrowly missed out on silver in the duet segment of the competition, came second with 97 points thanks to a crisply executed entry. Spain, with a dance of intricate legwork set to the fast-moving guitar rhythms of Mexican duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, were third, just 0.8 points behind.
Home team Britain, making their first Olympic appearance, scored 87.3 points, placing them sixth.
(Reporting by Clara Ferreira-Marques, editing by Mark Meadows)