Global water instinct brand arena is once again proud to be an Official Sponsor of the LEN European Short Course Swimming Championships to be held in Netanya, Israel from 2-6 December, 2015. Athletes from 52 nations will descend on the popular resort city – known as the Riviera of Israel – which will host the 18th edition of the Championships in the brand new swimming complex of the Wingate Institute. Among the contestants will be a strong contingent from arena’s Elite Team, including Sarah Sjöström (50 & 100m butterfly defending champion), Ranomi Kromowidjojo (50 & 100m freestyle defending champion), Adam Peaty, Gregorio Paltrinieri, Katinka Hosszú (200m IM defending champion), Radosław Kawęcki (200m backstroke defending champion), Konrad Czerniak, and Paul Biedermann.
ON THE STARTING BLOCKS: REFLECTIONS, EXPECTATIONS… AND DREAMS
SARAH SJÖSTRÖM Sweden, 22
Two years ago you had your best-ever Euro SC Championships in Herning, with 2 golds, 3 silvers & a bronze. What are your goals for the Championships this year, and what individual events are you targeting for Netanya?
I will swim 50 & 100 fly and freestyle, and maybe 1-2 relays (although I’m not sure if we’ll have enough swimmers for them). My goal is 3-4 medals in my individual races, and to swim faster than I did in Herning and Doha.
2014 and 2015 produced a number of career highlights, with your bestever World LC, World SC and European Championship results, along with 5 new world records. How do you plan to continue performing at this level, and being able to peak at the 2016 Olympics in Rio?
My plan is to still have fun, enjoy this moment, stay healthy and try to swim faster and smarter both in training and competition.
Despite setting a new 200 freestyle world record in Doha last year and consistently performing at the highest level in this event for several years, more recently your focus seems to have shifted to the freestyle sprints (50 & 100). Should we expect this focus to continue as you build to Rio?
My main focus in Rio will be 100 fly and 200 free (the first 4 days). But I will also swim 50 & 100 free, and all the relays.
RANOMI KROMOWIDJOJO Netherlands, 25
You’ve had a lot of success at the European SC Championships over the years, and you’re the defending 50 & 100 freestyle champion from Herning in 2013. What are your goals for the Championships, and how does Netanya fit into your overall preparations for Rio in 2016?
The Europeans short course fit really well into my program, even though it’s short course. I’m focusing on short course until December because I really enjoy it. My personal goals are to swim personal bests.
Over the past 18 months you’ve been through a number of changes on the coaching front. How has this affected your training, and where are you now in terms of your preparations for Rio?
Since June 2014 I’ve been working with my current coach, Patrick. With him I’m back on the Road to Rio, and he has brought the pleasure back to my swimming.
You have not swum at the European Long Course Championships since 2008. Do you plan on competing in London in May, 2016?
Yes! I missed the 2010 EC because of meningitis, chose to skip the 2012 EC because of the Olympics, and then the 2014 because I needed to re-schedule my training program. So I’m really looking forward to finally swimming Europeans again and competing in the London pool again!
ADAM PEATY Great Britain, 20
Given the meteoric rise of your career over the past 15 months, it’s hard to believe that 2 years ago at the Euro SC Championships in Herning, you only made one semi-final in your 3 individual breaststroke events. Can you remember how you felt after those Championships, where your career was at the time, and where you thought it was headed?
Yes I remember distinctively that I was extremely nervous and saw it as a much bigger event than it was in the scheme of things. I was kind of in a transition stage, just wanting to make the Commonwealth team instead of wanting/thinking to win gold but really enjoyed the meet there!
Last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow started a keen rivalry between you and Cameron Van Der Burgh, and since then you seem to have gained the upper hand. How important is this rivalry in motivating you, and keeping you focused on the number one prize – an Olympic gold?
I think the rivalry is good for the sport as most people want to see something close and exciting, I think winning by a large amount is boring to look at; so I kind of know that I’ve got to make every session count and keep my eyes on the Olympics.
Despite your rivalry with Cameron in the 50m pool, you were both beaten to the wall in the 50 & 100 breast by Felipe Silva at last year’s World SC Championships in Doha. How different is racing in the 25m pool, and how will you measure your overall progress towards Rio from your performance in Netanya?
I think racing short course is a different game as you don’t have to be as fit but can get away with power and speed around and off the walls, not much like long course. I will be using European Short Course as a training meet and seeing where I can pick up gains on every aspect of my races!
GREGORIO PALTRINIERI Italy, 21
In a race like the 1500, you will do 30 more turns in a 25m pool than a 50m pool, which clearly makes it a different race tactically. How can you use your performance in a SC pool to gauge your progress towards something like the Olympics in a 50m pool?
I don’t think I’ll use different tactics, because that would distract me from my training plans, which are focused on racing 1500m in a 50m pool. Turns have never been my strong point, but over time I’ve tried to improve their efficiency. It’s true that I’ll have to deal with many more, but I’ll approach it in a way that the 25m pool is not an obstacle. As always, I’ll tackle the race with great commitment but also a bit of fun.
2014 and 2015 have been phenomenal years for you, with the World 1500 LC & SC titles, the 800-1500 Euro double in Berlin, and two sub-14:40 European records. After your first Olympics in 2012 – where you finished fifth in just over 14:50 – did you expect your career & your performances to have advanced as quickly as it has?
Looking back, I can’t deny there’s been very significant and promising progress. But I have to be honest: I’ve always swum to achieve these kinds of result, without losing sight of my goals. When I prepare for a race, I’ll grind out 18km a day and try to rest without needlessly dissipating energy. I’ll continue to give my best and never leave anything to chance in my preparation. This will help me to move forward with theright concentration.
KONRAD CZERNIAK Poland, 26
Your signature event – 100 fly – is one of the most competitive in men’s swimming, and with Michael Phelps returning, it’s only getting more competitive. How do you approach your training & competition in order to try & get on the podium?
It’s true that 100 fly has become extremely tough with many top athletes competing, and Michael’s return will add another dimension to this race. We started preparations for Rio two months ago, doing a lot of swimming with many kilometres at the beginning, but I think that was the part I needed to improve on the most. We’ll continue with this plan after the winter season, which is extremely busy this year with almost a whole month of competition ahead, before coming back home for Christmas.
After your 50 free success in Berlin in 2014, will you be swimming this event in Netanya, and training in 2016 in the hope of qualifying for the Olympic 50 free in Rio?
Yes, I like 50 free. I’m not always able to prepare for it because of the event schedule, but those of Berlin and Netanya have given me that opportunity. My goal is to qualify in 50 free for the Olympics in Rio, but whether I’ll actually be able to compete will only be decided closer to the event.
How has training outside Poland – with Bartosz Kizierowski in Madrid – affected your career and your life?
We’ve been working together for eight years now and it’s been an extremely successful collaboration, especially this season. We had a discussion after the World Championships in Kazan, which helped us to set priorities and goals. Bartek is my trainer and my friend, I have the highest respect and confidence in him. He is resolute and exacting in training, but always ready to have a regular guy-to-guy chat afterwards. Throughout my career he’s taught me to have a professional approach to sport and shared many technical elements essential for good swimming. But he’s also been there for me in my private life, helping me like an old friend.
PAUL BIEDERMANN Germany, 29
How do you feel after your break in 2013 and your return to top-level swimming in 2014?
It feels great and I’m really excited about the upcoming season. The break was not that easy to handle, but I’m glad that I could get through it.
What events will you be swimming in Netanya and what are your goals for the Championships?
I’m looking forward to swimming 200 & 400 freestyle. I wanted to swim an international competition at the end of the year, and my goal is to be faster than I was at nationals in Wuppertal.