The pool was the desert of the Tatars until Klement Kolsenikov appeared to set the first world record of the pandemic era. The Russian espaldista, a millennial Born in 2000, he swam the 50 meters in 23.93s in the European semi-finals in Budapest. Thus he broke his own personal mark, the previous world record, of 24.00s, achieved in 2018. Thus, he laid the first big stone in the reconstruction work of online swimming competitions after the unprecedented break in 2020.
The passage of the pandemic has left a world of unknowns in high performance sports. Inline swimming races, one of the sports most affected by the 2020 lockdowns, has been marked by the unusual inactivity of swimmers. Since swimmers train 12 months a year in pre-Olympic cycles, decades ago, they have never stood for so long, out of their element, withering without the daily routine that habituated their bodies to the weightlessness of the aquatic environment. The technicians agree: what happens from now on will reveal the consequences of the most atypical preparation they have faced in their lives. Scientific study material. On the way to the Tokyo Games next July, the calendar offers few more revealing points than these European Swimming Championships that began this Monday in Budapest.
The first day registered two finals of individual tests. First, the 400-meter women’s category combined styles, with no more news than expected. Brands turned out poor. Second, the men’s 400 freestyle. Brands were poor again.
The Hungarian Katinka Hosszu, queen of styles for more than five years, prevailed in the 400 with a time of 4 minutes 34.76 seconds. She was followed by her compatriot Viktoria Mihalyvari, just a 17-year-old teenager, in 4m 36.81s. Considering that 4m 34.76s is the 147th mark in FINA’s historical ranking, the race was slow. Very slow when you consider that there have been 26 swimmers who have swum faster than that, including, of course, Hosszu.
The final of the 400 men’s free practice ran on similar terrain. Russian Martin Malyutin won in 3m 44.18s. Malyutin, 21, had never swam so fast this test. But there have been 26 swimmers throughout history who have. Including the Italian Gabriele Detti, who did 3m 43.23s in 2019 and this Monday did not go beyond fourth place with 3m 46.07. At 27, Detti, like most swimmers, have passed the threshold at which it is physiologically easier to achieve the best records.
Probably the covid has drawn an invisible line that dramatically separates the veteran swimmers of the new generation, more resistant, due to their youth, to the forced inactivity of 2020. The Russian Kolesnikov, with his Orthodox cross hanging from his neck and his chicha unpolished athlete, can be an exponent of the new batch. He came from breaking records as a junior years before the pandemic, had set the world record in 2019, and continues his progression with armed force with a long body (1.98) and rounded, with surfaces more similar to the hull of a submarine than to the surfboard of classics like Lacourt or Peirsol. Perhaps the nature of the shorter test helps: the 50 meters does not take as many hours of swimming to fine-tune your preparation. It is enough to display the innate talent of each one and the dry training weighs more than in other distances.
In the wave of Kolesnikov, who swam in the fourth street, the Greek Apostolos Christou and the Spanish Hugo González de Oliveira climbed. The Greek swam in the three and made the best national time with 24.49s. Hugo González, 22, was third of that semifinal on 5th Street, with 24.60s. Record of Spain and great expectations. This Tuesday he will fight for a medal.