To keep the balance: legendary Alexander Popov gives master class in Kazan

Four-time Olympic swimming champion arrived in Kazan for two days

To keep the balance: legendary Alexander Popov gives master class in Kazan
Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov

A tournament among young swimmers for four-time Olympic swimming champion Alexander Popov’s prizes took place in Orgsintez swimming pool in Kazan. Both Popov’s visit and a master class given during the tournament were a part of SIBUR and TAIF companies’ joint social events. A correspondent of Realnoe Vremya’s sports staff went to the competition, attended the master class and talked with the legendary swimmer.

Kazan becomes Russia’s aquatic capital

“Kazan is the champions’ capital.” This slogan used in the 2000s when our ice hockey and football, male and then female volleyball players were in the lead in their championships can easily change for “Kazan is an aquatic capital.” We don’t have a lot of champions now, only Sintez water polo club and field hockey players are, however, there are a lot of aquatic events. After the official stage of the Swimming Cup and the European Short Course Swimming Championships, Tatarstan’s capital hosted international diving competitions.

Last weekend, Svetlana Romashina’s synchronised swimming competition for young athletes and four-time Olympic champion Alexander Popov’s swimming tournament were held.

Popov comes to Kazan quite often, to both simple spend some time and as an honourable guest. He brought here the Alexander Popov Cup, which can be without bragging be called children’s Olympics with Russia’s top athletes in both summer and winter Olympic sports. Now, one of the legs of the Alexander Popov Cup ended in Irkutsk gaining a bigger audience. The great swimmer doesn’t forget Tatarstan. In October, he already gave a master class in Nizhnekamsk.

Chairman of SIBUR Trade Union Vyacheslav Kharitonov said:

“SIBUR pays a lot of attention to promoting a healthy lifestyle. After the merger of our enterprise with Tatarstan companies, we are holding amazing sports events inviting great Russian athletes who defended the honour of Russia at Olympic Games, world championships. A two-hour meeting with workers of the enterprise took place yesterday at Kazanorgsintez, today Mr Popov is here with us at this health festival.”

Vyacheslav Kharitonov: “SIBUR pays a lot of attention to promoting a healthy lifestyle”

“A healthy family is the foundation for our strong company”

Kazan and Nizhnekamsk are not only the heart of the republic’s petrochemical industry but also the swimming skeleton of the region’s team. Nizhnekamsk brought up repeated Russian championship medallist Alexander Kubasov at Neftekhimik Sports Club. Kazan has much more top swimmers. Four of them are members of Sintez Aquatics Club. However, talking about the four Sintez athletes, we cannot help but mention Yana Martynova, a three-time Olympian (in Athens in 2004, Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012).

“As for the students of our school I have brought, we competed only in performances, since our students have a higher level, like the one in sports schools. And here mainly ordinary schoolchildren who love swimming have participated. It is also a sign of gratitude to our favourite Orgsintez swimming pool where I have had a chance of becoming a referee for the first time,” she shared.

President of Sintez Aquatics Club Irek Zinnurov who works in Baku but doesn’t miss any important aquatic event in Kazan was among honourable guests. There was Popov’s teammate at the Games in Athens in 2004 Ramil Aritkulov was among honourable fans in the stands. Now he is responsible for social affairs at TGC-16 (this enterprise was also represented by competitors and their parents).

Yana Martynova: “We competed only in performances, since our students have a higher level, like the one in sports schools. And here mainly ordinary schoolchildren who love swimming have participated”

Vice Director General of Staff and General Affairs at Kazanorgsintez PJSC Aydar Akhmetshin said:

“It is a huge honour to host and hold such a tournament. The development of physical culture has always been a priority for our enterprise, since a healthy staff, healthy family is the foundation for our strong company.”

To meet the legend

During the master class, the four-time Olympic champion shared his unique swimming technique that was recorded on video in Australia by spying Popov and his coach Gennady Turetsky’s training. The referee reminded the audience about this. The technique is truly unique: it has always seemed that the Olympian swims softly, making strokes slower than his rivals. Take event the transmission of his victorious events in the 50 and 100 metres at the Olympics in Barcelona and Atlanta that were demonstrated before the master class: we had already known the results of the heats. But these scenes didn’t anyway provide an accurate answer to the question how Popov turned out to be faster than Matt Biondi in 1992 and Gary Hall in 1996. We just saw the American competing with the water, while Popov was sliding. The balance turned out to be key our champion found and started his master class in Orgsintez swimming pool with:

“The child should lie on the surface keeping the necessary balance. The arms and legs should be added later to the existing balance. If the child doesn’t have the correct technique with slow swimming, he doesn’t handle any technique when swimming fast. And increasing the speed the swimmer shouldn’t reduce the range. It doesn’t guarantee that by increasing the number of strokes we will increase the speed. Perhaps, we will increase head resistance...”

By the way, Popov himself explained first that the master class was not mainly designed for children but their coaches. The champion reminded them that the bond between coach and athlete must be key and give parents, doctors auxiliary roles and asked mums and dads: “Please, don’t meddle in the relationships between the coach and the athlete, moreover, don’t meddle in teaching.”

Alexander Popov: “The master class has been devoted to showing the difference between swimming with one’s bent or straight arms, sharing exercises I used in my career improving my technical capabilities thanks to them, looking for students’ reserves”

In a talk with the press, Mr Popov said:

“The master class has been devoted to showing the difference between swimming with one’s bent or straight arms, sharing exercises I used in my career improving my technical capabilities thanks to them, looking for students’ reserves. But this was primarily aimed at coaches.”

After that, another Olympic medallist — Irek Zinnurov — admitted he envied the lads who attended the master class:

“It was a dream of many, to meet the legend of world sport, all rivals feared him, Alexander Popov. Now, thanks to the group of companies of SIBUR, TAIF, Kazanorgsintez, this legend is here, among us, and the lads absorbed his instructions in awe.”

Competition results

Students who do swimming in sports clubs of Orgsintez swimming pool participated in the tournament — there weren’t students of special sports schools among them. Most of them already have the 1st junior swimming level. In several age categories, they competed in the 50 metres freestyle.

  • Daria Chirkova (33,75) finished first among girls born in 2007-2008. Alfia Karimova (34,28) and Diana Zinnatulina (34,65) won silver and bronze.
  • Ksenia Sorokina with 33,52 won among girls born in 2005-2006. She was followed by Daria Afanasyeva (35,50) and Sofia Isakova (36,15).
  • Girls born in 2009-2010 are the youngest competitors. Maria Nikiforova (36,15) is the winner, Ulyana Bezglazova (37,08) is second, Viktoria Zhikharyova (37,15) is third.
  • Erik Ismagilov (30,03) won among the boys born in 2008. Igor Gorokhov has silver (30,96), Dmitry Alayev got bronze (31,34).
  • Karim Gimadeyev won a victory (35,03) among boys born in 2009-2010, Artur Bagautdinov (35,06) and Nikita Kolabinov (35,46) finished second and third.
  • Finally, among the boys born in 2006, Askar Nigmatzyanov (27,81) won gold, Danil Kungurtsev (28,55) was second, Iskander Davlyatov (28,7) was third.

    Прикрепленная галерея:
    Life hacks from Olympian: Alexander Popov gives master class in Orgsintez swimming pool

Jaudat Abdullin
Tatarstan