President of the All-Russian Swimming Federation Vladimir Salnikov in an interview with RIA Novosti special correspondent Veronika Gibadiyeva spoke about the challenges for the upcoming competitions for Russian swimmers, the peculiarities of preparation for the World Championships Gwangju and ruled out the evening finals in the Olympic selection program.
– Vladimir Valeryevich, swimmers have a very active summer in 2019. Home Junior European Championship, Universiade, European Youth Festival and this is not to mention the key start – the World Cup. As readiness, what are the priorities and what do you expect from the teams at each of these starts?
– Indeed, the summer in terms of competitions is very intense. From all the teams that were formed after the selections, we expect certain successes, medals. This year's European Championship will be held in Kazan. I am convinced that the guys really want to show high results. They managed to show them in recent years and here we were lucky – had a chance to prove their level at home, at home stands. It's very important.
I am convinced that the competition will be interesting – the competition is growing. I understand that it is quite difficult to win two dozen medals every time, but I think this year the team will not hit the face in the dirt.
As for the Universiade, it is not an end in itself for us. The main start is the World Cup. And there will be all the strongest. So the squad, which will go to the Universiade, is inferior in terms of the possibility that will go to Korea, but if you consider what athletes we will be represented in Naples, I am sure, without medals and there the team will not remain.
Well, the World Aquatics Championships in Korea – a key event. In addition, it is pre-Olympic and this, in addition to the main importance, is a test of the model of adaptation, which we intend to use before the Games in Tokyo. According to our plan of preparation for Gwangju, the team will go to Vladivostok in advance, hold a training camp there, then fly to Osaka and from there will go to Korea. Our comprehensive research team will be able to monitor all the parameters. I am sure that this will help the coaches to adjust the final stage of preparation for the Olympic Games.
– I heard from representatives of other water sports that it was very difficult to find a decent option with a pool in Russia in the right time zone in front of Korea. Have you encountered such problems and why did you choose Vladivostok?
– Logistics issues also played a role here. In particular, the distance between the venue and the sports facility itself. All the details are important! The pool, where the training will take place, was built by the 80th year, but is in decent condition, should be all at a good level. But, of course, we are in favor of expanding the infrastructure for swimming in this region. All this will be of great benefit: in this part of our country really need to expand the logistics base, build sports facilities. This applies to both Vladivostok and Khabarovsk, especially since there are traditions and talented athletes.
– How will you "roll around" the situation with the morning finals at the Games in Tokyo? By the way, FINA did not consider the possibility in Korea to arrange a rehearsal with decisive swims in the morning?
– FINA in this regard is quite conservative. This option was not considered. In general, the problem of morning finals before the Games, if they are held in Asia, arises not for the first time and is connected with the fact that the program is made to please the interests of some broadcasters. We can't solve it for our part, there are no such tools. And the decision in this regard depends more on the leadership of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The parties are trying to reduce this to a compromise, but it still turns out that the choice is in favor of the least of evils.
I will say this: if you do not prepare for the situation with the morning finals at all, it will definitely be difficult to fight for something. But everyone already knows what methods in preparation can be used to improve adaptation. There are mechanisms that are tried and worked. Of course, the biological clock is different for everyone, all organisms are different, so it is impossible to set everyone up perfectly, unfortunately, but you can prepare for it. Unfortunately, when the Games are not held in Europe, we have to face such situations – in Rio athletes returned to the Olympic village after the finals after midnight … And we also had to adapt to it.
– Will the finals be in the evening at the Russian Championship in 2020?
"Yes, we will go the traditional way. We will work out everything in the training process (smiles).
– Have you encountered any peculiarities in organizing preparations for the World Cup in Gwangju? The history with Korea is always special, too.
– The pool there meets all the requirements of FINA, there should be no problems. But the question on nutrition in Asia always arises – whether it will be difficult with food. Although, as a rule, the organizers solve this problem, provide an opportunity to choose the usual cuisine of athletes from around the world. In any case, we will not take our team to food there. We are sure that the organizing committee will 100% cope with the task of the usual cuisine for athletes.
"But there is still a danger with the possible entry of banned substances with some products from Asia.
"It really is. In particular, it concerns meat, poultry. These cases are known to all, so the host is usually responsible for the quality of those products that are offered in organized nutrition for athletes during the competition. This topic has been raised many times, I am sure that the control of the organizing committee will be one hundred percent.
"But it's tempting to go out for a bite. Will athletes receive the appropriate instructions?
– There is such a thing, and here the danger is very high. In a pinch, a snack, if you really need, you can just chocolate. We will give additional briefings on the dangers of individual products.
RUSADA actively calls on federations to transparency of all anti-doping processes. How are your relationships built?
— We have always been open on this issue and ready to cooperate with RUSADA. We have developed certain documents, we have an anti-doping program, we always raise this issue on all our sites – on the website, in social networks, in the newspaper, in the magazine. Athletes in our country undergo distance training, special courses… We also work with young people. We are constantly reminded to work correctly in the ADAMS system so that there are no problems. Unfortunately, everything is impossible to control, besides we have athletes 14-15 years, but we try to do everything in our power, instill discipline.
– The FINA Congress will be held in Gwangju. What issues are planned to be discussed a year before the next Olympics?
– Before each congress, a lot of work is done to collect information from technical committees and commissions to prepare the necessary changes to the CONSTITUTION of FINA. This is due to the general rules of interaction with international organizations, the rules of work of commissions, committees, the rules of sports themselves.
– What are FINA's priorities for the 2024 Games?
– It is clear that all federations want more sets of medals and expansion of the program of their types at the Games. If we talk about swimming, here, as with many of our colleagues, everything rests on a certain quota for the number of participants. If you want to change the number of types of the program – the question immediately arises how to do it without going beyond the existing quota. In particular, this issue concerned water polo, they even wanted to reduce the number of participants at the World Championships, but the bureau voted against it. I was against the idea myself.
– Synchronized swimming lobbies for the interests of mixt duets, as I understand it.
– I can say one thing – interest in this species is growing. Another thing is that the number of mixt duets is not enough to speak clearly about this prospect right now. On the other hand, there is the issue of gender equality, to which the IOC pays a lot of attention… They, for their part, will look at the increase in interest in this species in the media, on the Internet, to estimate the number of fans… Ultimately, the decision will be up to the IOC. It's hard to say what's going to outweigh it in the end.
– The question of competition in Russia. Do FINA have any plans for this?
"In recent years, we have hosted the most important competitions under the auspices of FINA. And they show great interest in Russia. So, I think, in the near future we will be able to take the biggest starts on our territory again.
– In 2020, it will be the 40th anniversary of the Moscow Olympics. Is the WWF planning to hold special events for this event?
– Of course, there are such plans, but, unfortunately, in the year of the 40th anniversary of our Olympics, we enter without the Olympic pool. This is a great loss – the object had historical value. And it's hard to say what it's going to be like. With the closure of this pool, we lost the opportunity to hold competitions at the level of the World Cup, World And European Championships in Moscow. There are no exact plans for the construction of new facilities of the same class as the "Olympic" in Moscow. All this raises great concerns, including concerns about how to preserve those athletes who have been trained at this facility and in the MOCVS. Even the pool of RGUFK, according to our information, in the near future is closed for repairs.
– Returning to the swimmers' performance in Gwangju. What has changed in the team since Budapest 2017, the most successful World Cup in recent years?
– In principle, there was a tendency for new athletes to join the team. The number of athletes who make it to the finals continues to grow. We talked about it back in Kazan, while not trying to justify the number of medals, and they always want to win more… We continued to develop reserve training programs, the program "I will become a champion." This allows us to attract a large number of young athletes to train at the UTC in Volgograd. So gradually, we see how those who came to the program, go to the frontier of the elite of world swimming.