The Russian team triumphed in the European Short Course Swimming Championships in Herning, Denmark. The Russian athletes racked up 13 gold metals and the team earned a secure first place. These are the best results in history.
“We are very pleased with the team. I think we have lived up to the boldest expectations. Perhaps we even surpassed them to a degree,” said Vladimir Salnikov, the president of the All-Russian Swimming Federation and four-time Olympic champion.
Several swimmers stood out at the championships, including Vladimir Morozov, who won seven awards of the highest order and showed the best results in the history of the tournament. Yuliya Efimova broke the world record in the 200-meter breaststroke.
“Our victory was not accidental. It indicates that we are on the right track,” Salnikov said.
Morozov became a seven-time champion in this competition while setting several world records in the relay fours on the way.
Just 21, Morozov started swimming in Novosibirsk, but now lives in Los Angeles and studies at the University of Southern California. He won one medal at the Olympic Games in London, the bronze 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay.
That year there were also gold medals in the World and European Short Course Championships. Given his outstanding performance in Herning this year, he’s set his sights on surpassing the achievements of American Michael Phelps, who scored one victory after another at all the major competitions, including the Olympics. Upon his own admission, Morozov was not in top form and had only been thinking about helping his team in the relays.
“I was ill for quite a while leading up to the championship, so I was considering not even coming to Herning. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone here. But then I decided to help the guys, particularly in the relay races,” Morozov said after the first day of competition in Denmark.
As a result of Morozov’s participation, victories were gained in the 50 and 100-meter crawls, as well as in the hundred-meter medley. Moreover, four golds were won in the freestyle and medley relays. Moreover, the victory in the 4 x 50 meter medley with Vitaly Melnikov, Oleg Kostin, and Nikita Konovalov was achieved with a world record of 1.32,38.
The best time in the history of the Russian team was also attained in the mixed 4 x 50 meter medley relay. Yuliya Efimova and Svetlana Chimrova participated in it alongside Morozov and Melnikov. The result was1.37,63. Yet another record was set by Sergey Fesikov, Rozaliya Nasretdinova, and Veronica Popova with the help of Morozov in the mixed freestyle relay at 1.29,53.
Of all of these results, perhaps the most striking was the record in the mixed medley relay. Coaches choose which leg of the race belongs to each member of the relay team: two men and two women. Morozov had been assigned the finish. During the third stage, Svetlana Chimrova lost two seconds to the leading German Steffen Deibler. For swimming, especially when we are talking about a distance of 50 meters, such a separation is tantamount to disaster. However, Morozov not only overtook the German Dorothea Brandt in a matter of seconds, but also beat her to the finish with 1.7 seconds to spare, making a new world record in the process.
Interestingly, Morozov was not satisfied with himself about the results of the tournament. He had hoped to break the world record in the hundred-meter individual medley but got “stuck with” a gold medal.
First published in Russian in Rossiyskaya Gazeta.