President of the Russian Masters Swimming Federation (RMSF), Alexandr Danilov, sat fown for an exclusive interview to talk about the development of the Swimming Federation in Russia, personal victories and methods Masters athletes use to motivate young people to do sports.
– Tell us about your participation in the FINA World Masters Championships.
– I competed in the men’s 50m freestyle race and two relays and won silver and bronze medals.
– What motivates silver age athletes to not quit sport, but to continue training on a professional level and take part in international championships?
– They have different journeys back to sport: some return to sport because they miss emotions, adrenaline, drive. We have a lot of Masters athletes at the age of 25 who were on the national team just a couple of years ago. We have a lot of athletes who have shown good results earlier. We have 40-50-year-olds who just start swimming and it is the best way to be healthy. When I was getting ready for the tournament, I knew I must show high results and so I limited my needs and wishes for the sake of a victory.
– Tell us about Masters athletes’ training regime.
– First, it takes longer hours for body to recover. Thus, there are two categories of people: the first group swim for pleasure, the second group want to show a result, win a medal, impress oneself and others. The latter train six times a week.
– Could you tell us a few words about the future plans of the Russian Swimming Federation? What has changed since it was founded?
– The movement in Russia dates back to 1989. Our Federation has doubled the number of clubs during the last five years. Now we have 60 clubs all over Russia compared to 25 before. We represent not only the country at the Masters tournament, but also the clubs in which we train. Four years ago Russia looked weak at the FINA World Masters. We had never made it to the top six in the medal count. But two years ago, at the European Championships, the Tsunami Club took the first place. A lot of foreigners acknowledge a leap forward in the development of the Masters swimming tournament. It is important to mention that due to the fact that two major aquatics sports events were merged together and now the regular Championships blend into the Masters Championships – and it first happened in your city – the status and the significance of the Masters tournament will considerably increase. I think that in two years the Masters movement will experience a boost in its development and everything will change for the better.
– There is a false stereotype that only young people are involved in sports professionally. In your opinion, what should be done to attract more and more athletes to compete at the Masters tournament?
– Athletes of every age group deserve attention. I mean I would divide all the athletes in three large groups: the first group would include young athletes up to 35 years old, the competitors starting from 35 till 55 years old will make up group number two whereas the third group will comprise the most honorable representatives of the tournament – 65-95-year-olds. An equal number of athletes from each age group is present at these Championships. 25-year-old athletes have a chance to admire the remarkable physical condition of the oldtimers, of the 75-year-old athletes. And young people can see with their own eyes that they can maintain their perfect health if they keep working on themselves.
– What are your brightest impressions that you have from the past Championships?
– Overall impression is evoked by the outstanding delivery of the Championships. Awarding ceremonies, for instance, were not held at such a high level, I mean the athletes were usually awarded out of the bounds of the swimming pool because there were a lot of medal events to be held and there were a lot of participants in different age groups. At these Championships, everything was different. Some of the athletes were quite surprised about the fact that their athletic accomplishments are acknowledged and they are properly awarded just like elite athletes during the main Championships, some of them were even crying.
– What you mean to say is that the delivery of the 16th FINA World Championships has been up to the highest level, hasn’t it?
– To tell the truth, no one expected it to be that high! Especially foreign athletes, they were very surprised. Way before the start of the Championships they had a little bit of hysterics when they were trying to convince everyone that Russia will offer a low level of event management, that Russia won't be able to stage the World Championships and it won't be worth going there. I’ve personally heard a lot of positive feedbacks on the high standard of event delivery, the quality of venues, the amazing hospitality, the high-quality work of technical officials, the incredible results achieved by the athletes. I think you know that numerous world records were set set at these Championships. Everything was simply great!
Press Office of Organising Committee for 16th FINA World Championships