Kazan to become world aquatic centre for a week

After Swimming World Cup legs, the capital of Tatarstan will host the European Championships

As soon as the Aquatic Palace just finished hosting a Swimming World Cup leg, which has been held in Kazan for several years, competitors of the European Short Course Championships filled the venue after them. In other words, some non-European athletes left Kazan, they were replaced by Europeans who didn’t compete in the legs. Also, the length of the swimming pool will be twice shorter because the short course is 25 metres in length, in fact, the same swimming but with turns. Read more in Realnoe Vremya’s report.

The peculiarity of the European Championships in Kazan

The current edition of the European Championships like many other things in our COVID-19 reality is special. To start with, the national team of Russia was made up after the swimming nationals, which were in Kazan in April. But the problem is that the heats were in the standard 50-metre swimming pool. As a result, Veronika Andrusenko, Grigory Tarasevich who competed with Olympic medallist Alexander Krasnykh at the Tokyo Games plus Eduard Valiakhmetov and Renata Gaynullina qualified for the competition.

This tournament is special also because it is held before the world championships, which were postponed into December 2021, and Russian athletes will qualify for it after the country’s short course championship scheduled for late November in Saint Petersburg.

Probably the biggest difference between swimming in the standard pool from short course competitions is the turn athletes perform after reaching the end of the pool. For instance, one of the athletes who participated in the pre-competition press conference of the European Championships in Kazan Simona Quadarella will have to turn 30 times in her signature event — 1,500 m freestyle before reaching the finish.

Perhaps, this is what Simona shared with Italian journalists later because your correspondent understands nothing but bellisimo, grandissimo and fortissimo, while Simone used a couple of these words. Another familiar Italian word is perché. Why was Quadarella allowed to talk with the media, while two Russian journalists who approached Yevgeny Rylov to ask him for a brief comment were redirected to the press attaché of the Russian Swimming Federation? Why did foreign journalists fill the press centre, while Russians were said that it would open only on Tuesday?

Swimmers have the best regulation during the pandemic

By the way, Italians should be paid tribute because mainly they amazingly organised the work of swimming federations. The International Swimming Federation (FINA) and its European subdivision LEN holding the championships outstripped almost all their colleagues from other federations who had to postpone a lot of competitions or cancel them.

Marco Stacchiotti, a LEN swimming bureau member, and Marco Birri, executive director of the federation, are among the federation’s top managers that designed an accurate and clear protocol thanks to which the swimming federation cancelled only the pre-Olympic water polo tournament among women’s teams Kazan also wanted to host.

Birri noted that Kazan is one of the reliable partners of the European Swimming Federation and singled out Ranko Tepavčević, vice director of the Directorate for Sports Projects. It is interesting that local top officials — Maxim Denisov, director general of the directorate, and Sports Minister Vladimir Leonov — weren’t at the meeting, while Mr Leonov was represented by First Vice Minister Khalil Shaykhutdinov.

Then Birri started to explain the anti-COVID-19 protocol making translator Olga Krasnova who had to remember and translate a lot of information that will be very important for colleagues from other international federations who weren’t ready for the new requirements work.

Birri concluded his speech saying that international competitions under the aegis of LEN resumed late last November creating a strict protocol before that. So just seven cases of coronavirus have been registered among competitors since then.

Start of new Olympic cycle

If there is something positive in the postponement of sports competitions, it is the reduction of the expectation of the next Games in Paris in 2024. Three years is twice less than the term the worlds in Kazan in 2015 when Yevgeny Rylov debuted on the Russian team. Now he is one of the world’s experienced swimmers who hides his insatiable thirst for medals behind a cat’s mask.

“I had quite a successful season, though there was a pause in the preparation after the Olympics, my shape got worse,” the two-time Olympic champion admitted. “But the results at the European Championships will be very good, and I will have to keep up with them. Hopefully, I will show the results I had previously.”

For Realnoe Vremya, Rylov commented on the nuances of his training process. The case is that when results are updated every time, swimmers, coaches, specialists look for the organism’s reserves changing the amount of the training process that used to be only in the water for a gym. And much more attention is paid now to dry land training in the swimming world, some even say that dry land training is key.

“The correct state of my body in the water crucially depends on the state of my muscles, this is why I spent much time in the gym first, paying quite a lot of attention to this training, though less than to the water training,” Yevgeny noted.

As for Maria Kameneva, she noted that not so much time was given to the gym in her conditioning, and perhaps this was one of the reasons for her unsuccessful performance at the Olympics.

Necessary to have a look at budding athletes

President of the Russian Swimming Federation Vladimir Salnikov, who by the way didn’t win European Short Course Championships despite being a four-time Olympic champion because the championships started to be held after his sports career ended, noted that nobody left the Russian national team after the Olympic cycle ended: Yulia Yefimova, Anton Chupkov who competed in the World Cup legs, family duets the Andrusenkos or Fesikovs are still on the team.

Meanwhile, the youth are joining the company of stars who already recommended themselves. For example, Romanian swimmer David Popovici was one of the attendees of the press conference, he was introduced as a Romanian swimmer. While he was asked questions as Kliment Kolesnikov’s recent opponent. By the way, he is a budding swimmer on a global scale, though not from a swimming country (Carmen Bunaciu, Tamara Costache, Diana Mocanu, Camelia Potec, there were few stars and all of them are women).

However, Kazan fans and other age-mates should keep an eye on this guy because in 2024 Tatarstan will host the European Championships (swimming, diving, synchronised swimming and high dividing). A year later, the second world championship in history (plus, a water polo championship) will be hosted.

Perhaps, by this time, we will see new representatives of Tatarstan swimming too. Some of them debuted in Kazan in World Cup legs winning five medals. Backstroke swimmer Tarasevich has two medals, relay teams have three. 18-year-old Renal Nazipov from Almetyevsk and 14-year-old Ralina Gilyazova from Naberezhnye Chelny are the most promising of them.

Why not, perhaps, future stars gathered now in Kazan for another Mad Wave international tournament whose organisers also rented a 50-metre Burevestnik pool. After these words, there has been heard some envious sigh some 800-km east from Kazan.

Dzhaudat Abdullin. Photo: minsport.tatarstan.ru

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The author’s opinion does not necessarily coincide with the position of Realnoe Vremya’s editorial board.