2022 Russian Spartakiad
- August 21 – 26, 2022
- Nevskaya Volna Water Sports Center
- Saint Petersburg, Russia
- LCM (50 meters)
- Live Results
With four days of competition completed, swimming at the 2022 Russian Spartakiad is more than halfway done.
The multi-sports Spartakiad of Summer Sports was revived this year in response to the ban of Russian and Belarusian athletes from most international sporting competitions, including swimming. In March, FINA banned Russian and Belarusian athletes from FINA-sanctioned competitions for 2022 due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing war. FINA also pulled the 2022 Short Course World Championships from Kazan and relocated them to Melbourne, Australia.
This is not the first time the Spartakiad has taken place. The event was originally organized by the Soviet Union as a propaganda event among its member states and the name is still used for internal sporting events from the local to national level.
This is not the only meet the Russian Swimming Federation has created for their athletes this year amid the ban. They’ve also hosted the swimming-specific Russian Championships and the Solidarity Games.
At the Spartakiad, athletes compete in teams based on their home-regions. The meet has attracted lots of Russian stars, including Stanford swimmer Andrei Minakov, who returned home to Russia after competing at U.S. Nationals and Evgeny Rylov, who separate from the ban on Russian athletes, is serving a nine-month suspension from FINA meets for appearing at a pro-war rally.
Among the regions participating is Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, though most of the world still recognizes the region as part of Ukraine.
The meet features a full slate of events, including both single-gender and mixed relays.
The home team of Saint Petersburg got off to a strong start on day 1, taking two relay wins–the men’s 4×100 freestyle and the women’s 4×200 freestyle relays.
On the men’s side, Roman Shevlyakov, Minakov, Vasily Kukushkin, and Alexander Shchegolev combined to win the men’s 4×100 free relay in 3:15.57, winning easily over Moscow, who, anchored by Kliment Kolesnikov, clocked 3:17.00. In an interview prior to the start of the meet, Minakov revealed that he had COVID-19 prior to U.S. Nationals, which had been one of his focus meets for the summer along with the Spartakiad. As the third-led of the relay, he split 49.37.
In the women’s 4×200 free relay, Saint Petersburg won easily again. Valeria Kozlova, Yana Shakirova, Irina Shvaeva, and Daria Ustinova hit 8:10.95 for the win, touching over five seconds ahead of the Tatarstan squad.
There were two individual event finals, the men’s 400 freestyle and the women’s 400 IM, which were won by Moscow’s Daniil Shatalov and Anna Chernysheva, respectively. Shatalov swam 3:48.61, which is just off his personal best of 3:48.20 that he swam at the Russian Championships in 2020. Chernysheva 4:46.76 to win the women’s 400 IM, starting her fourth meet of the summer on a positive note.
In the semi-finals of the men’s 100 backstroke, Rylov–the Tokyo Olympic gold medallist–was disqualified for a false start.
With Rylov out of the 100 back final, it was the Tokyo silver medallist Kolesnikov who took the win, posting 52.90. That’s well-off what it would have taken to be in the medal hunt at World Championships, where all three medalists broke 52 seconds in a blistering final.
There were tight races in both the men’s 200 freestyle and 100 breaststroke. In the 200 free, Mikhail Dovgalyuk edged Martin Malyutin for the win, 1:47.20 to 1:47.49. After the race, Malyutin spoke about his preparations for the meet, saying that the season was “emotionally very difficult. It was hard to train the 400m, and yesterday it didn’t work at all. So far, there is not the same motivation that was before to show such a result.”
It was an even closer race in the 100 breaststroke, Daniil Semyaninov swam 59.64, getting the better of Kirill Prigoda by just four-hundredths of a second. Russian record holder Anton Chupkov finished third, behind the two leaders in 59.95.
Though Russian swimmers are banned from FINA competitions, like many of the top swimmers from other countries, they had a busy summer schedule. Some opted to focus on the Spartakiad, while others put the emphasis on the Solidarity Games. Semyaninov commented on this after his win, saying that “Maybe I was just lucky. The season is long, anything can happen. I swam faster at the Friendship Games, although the emphasis was on the Spartakiad.”
Fresh off a Russian record in the 400 IM at the Solidarity Games, Ilya Borodin won the men’s 200 IM in 1:58.78, getting the region of Bryansk on the medal table. The 19-year-old was .75 seconds off the national record of 1:58.00 that he set in 2020.
Volgograd swept the women’s 800 freestyle podium, with Margarita Ershova, Yana Kurtseva, Polina Kozyakina touching 1-2-3. Ershova touched first in 8:38.01, with Kurtseva second at 8:42.63, and Kozyakina rounding out the medals in 8:43.57.
Ustinova claimed her second victory of the meet, winning the women’s 200 backstroke in 2:13.60. She was over a second ahead of the silver medallist, but wasn’t very impressed with her racing. She commented that “[her] form is not very good right now, it’s good that [she has] enough of it to just win.”
Anastasiia Markova overtook Svetlana Chimrova to win the women’s 200 fly in 2:08.83. That’s just off the best time of 2:08.41 that she set last year at European juniors in Rome.
In the women’s 100 freestyle, Maria Kameneva was the only swimmer under 54 seconds, clocking 53.89 to beat Darya Klepikova by almost a second. Ustinova earned another medal, tying for third with Daria Surushkina in 55.06.
Moscow earned the top two places on the men’s 100 fly podium. Peter Zhikharev took the win in 51.08, with Andrei Zhilkin a distant 51.78. Rounding out the podium was Mikhail Vekovishchev, who also got under 52 seconds in 51.85. Zhikharev was pleased with the result, saying that “The victory was definitely not easy, now it is very difficult to motivate yourself and set yourself up for the next all-Russian competitions. I do not like to stagnate, but because of the situation in the world, all athletes are forced to do this. Today I wanted to prove to everyone that I am worthy of attention and that I am no worse than my teammates.”
This was Zhilkin’s return to competition. He said he hadn’t raced since January due to a shoulder injury, which was preventing him of training on his back at all.
A huge shock came on day 4 of the competition in the men’s 200 breaststroke, when Kirill Prigoda beat Anton Chupkov, the former world record holder. Prigoda clocked 2:07.86, beating Chupkov, who swam 2:08.43, by more than half a second. It’s a massive best time for Prigoda, who had never been under 2:08.00 before. His old personal best was 2:08.11, which he swam in 2017.
After getting disqualified in the 100 backstroke, Rylov rebounded in the 200 back, taking the win by almost three seconds. He swam 1:55.90, which is good for sixth in the world this year behind Carson Foster‘s 1:55.86.
In the women’s 100 breaststroke, Nika Godun out-touched Evgenia Chikunova, 1:06.77 to 1:06.83. For Godun, that time is .11 seconds off the lifetime best she set earlier this season at the Russian Championships.
In the men’s 50 freestyle, Kolesnikov earned his second win of the meet. He swam 21.69 to win, the only one in the field to break 22 seconds. Daniil Markov finished second in 22.11. Markov’s best is 21.85, which he swam at the Russian Championships this year.
Chernysheva completed her sweep of the women’s individual medleys, taking the 200 IM in 2:14.60. It was a strong swim for her, as her lifetime best is a 2:14.15 from 2020.