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CHCIAGO _ When Russian synchronized swimmer Anna Kozlova came to the United States in 1993 and decided she wasn't going home, there was no guarantee her athletic career would survive her wait for citizenship.
For five years, Kozlova trained with the U.S. team in Santa Clara, Calif., alone and off to the side while the group did its routine, like an electron that has drifted free of an atom but retains its charge.
One of the world's top-ranked duet swimmers, she and her partner had finished fourth at the 1992 Olympics. Now, barred from competing in top international events until she had a new passport, Kozlova stayed behind when her teammates traveled and watched hungrily from the stands at the `96 Games in Atlanta when the U.S. team won the gold medal.
But patience is a well-developed muscle in synchronized swimmers, who learn early on to hold their breath and their position underwater. Kozlova's perseverance paid off last Oct. 7 when, wearing a blue blazer and a red, white and blue scarf, she wept as she took the oath of citizenship in San Jose.
"It was like being born again," Kozlova said.
It would be hard to find a more appreciative emigre than Kozlova. The 27-year-old from St. Petersburg, Russia, …