Big Ten Senior Spotlight: Roman Trussov of the University of Iowa

The Big Ten Championships always feature fast relays across the board, and the Iowa Hawkeyes have been a significant contributing factor in the increased depth of relay speed at the Conference Championships in recent years. With excellent medley relays being one of the team’s fortes, it would make sense that our next highlighted senior is an individual who has helped the Hawkeyes tremendously with his efforts both individually and on relays during each of his first three NCAA seasons. Next up, we have Roman Trussov out of Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan, and he will be one Hawkeye that everyone in the Big Ten will need to keep an eye on when the action kicks off next week.

Before joining the Hawkeyes for his freshman season, Trussov amassed an immense amount of international experience while living in his native country of Kazakhstan. Competing at the 2011 World Junior Championships, Trussov was a two-time event finalist with a pair of 8th place finishes coming in the 50 breast (29.22) and the 100 breast (1:03.68). He would also final in those same events just a few months later at the 7th Asian Age Group Swimming Championships with finishes of 6th in the 50 breast (29.53, 29.26 in prelims) and 3rd in the 100 breast (1:03.00). The following summer, Trussov would throw down some sterling times at the Ukrainian National Championships, leaving the meet with new personal bests of 28.47 in the 50 breast and 1:01.81 in the 100 breast as well.

Arriving in Iowa City to begin his NCAA career, Trussov immediately became a critical member of Iowa’s scoring charge at the Big Ten Championships. As a freshman, he would record individual finishes of 33rd in the 50 free (20.58), 13th in the 100 breast (53.96, 53.87 in prelims), and 17th in the 200 breast (1:55.84, 1:58.41 in prelims). Notably, after missing the school record in prelims by just 0.01 seconds, his finals swim absolutely demolished the old standard of 1:58.40 from 2007.

Roman would also contribute the breaststroke leg on Iowa’s 400 medley relay, helping his team go 3:10.18 to take 3rd overall. The performance would set a new school record, clipping over a second-and-a-half off the previous record of 3:11.87 from the previous year. The following month, Trussov would receive the opportunity to compete at the 2013 NCAA Championships, competing individually in the 100 breast (54.19, 33rd) and the 200 breast (1:56.93, 24th).

Also competing in two major international events in the 2012-13 training year, Trussov would perform admirably abroad. Racing at the Short Course World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey, he would take 39th in the 100 breast (1:00.50) and 22nd in the 200 breast (2:10.86). Just over six months later, he would also help set two Kazakhstani short course records with his contributions to his team’s 200 freestyle relay (1:29.10) and 200 medley relay (1:36.55) at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games.

Returning for his sophomore campaign with Iowa, Trussov would get his first taste of the “big heat” at the Big Ten Championships. He would post individual finishes of 38th in the 50 free (20.60), 8th in the 100 breast (54.24, 53.75 in prelims), and 15th in the 200 breast (1:58.14, 1:57.89 in prelims). With his time from the prelims of the 100 breast, he moved up to third all-time in Iowa’s rankings in the event.

Competing in his third season in the NCAA, Roman would go on to have his best season yet, recording finishes of 38th in the 50 free (20.52), 7th in the 100 breast (53.06, 52.85 in prelims), and 4th in the 200 breast (1:54.57). Both of his breaststroke swims established new school records in the process. Additionally, Trussov provided legs on both of the Hawkeyes’ medley relays, helping Iowa take 3rd in the 200 medley relay (1:25.53) and 5th in the 400 medley relay (3:08.56), both representing new school records as well.

At the 2015 NCAA Championships, the then-junior would improve upon his average placing from his freshman year by taking 24th in the 100 breast (53.17) and 28th in the 200 breast (1:55.04). He would also lend his breaststroking ability to Iowa’s 200 medley relay (1:26.19, 18th) and 400 medley relay (3:10.03, 19th) as well.

With records falling nearly every time that Roman Trussov tapers, head coach Marc Long must be licking his lips with anticipation as the senior gets ready to go out with a bang. With season bests of 53.32 and 1:56.18 in the breaststroke events coming from the Hawkeye Invitational last December, Trussov has got to be feeling good about where he stands in the days leading up to his final Conference Championships, and he could leave this year’s Championships with his biggest points haul yet. Look for this Kazakhstani product to be a primary catalyst in Iowa’s Championship Season efforts over the next month.

Best Times (SCY/LCM):
50 Free: 20.52/24.47
100 Breast: 52.85*/1:01.81
200 Breast: 1:54.57*/2:16.50
200 IM: 1:49.18/2:12.78
200 Medley Relay: 1:25.53*
400 Medley Relay: 3:08.56*

*Denotes school record

School Major/Degree:  Entrepreneurship Management Major
Favorite Event:  100 Breaststroke
Favorite Hobby:  
Inventing new things and watching YouTube
Favorite Movie:  
Hard to pick one, there are so many great movies out there
Person You’d Like to Meet Growing Up: 
Elon Musk

Favorite Food/ Pre-Race Meal: Not a meal, but I love watermelon juice

At what age did you become involved with swimming? How did you get into it?

My passion for swimming began at the age of 6. My parents signed me up for swimming lessons in an effort to increase my physical abilities. Since my dad was a notable track and field athlete, I was supposed to enter track and field athletics afterwards, but because of my increased interest in swimming and my impressive results at the age of 9, my parents decided that I should further develop my swimming skills.

What is your favorite collegiate swimming memory and why?

It is hard to distinguish one memory. I would say having Big Tens and NCAAs at our pool is definitely one of my favorite memories. It was interesting to stay at the hotel and come back to our pool like it is an away meet. It was a great atmosphere and it was very exciting to see people swim the fastest times in the world at the pool I swim in every day.

Before joining the Hawkeyes as a freshman, you were already a very experienced swimmer on the international stage, with a pair of final swims at the 2011 FINA World Junior Championships and numerous other medaling performances in international competitions in Europe highlighting your accolades. What was your transition to NCAA swimming like, and did you have any difficulty becoming accustomed to collegiate swimming in the United States? 

The transition to NCAA swimming was quite an adaptation for me. First of all, it took time to get used to the American culture, food, and other factors. The swimming itself, however, was more pleasant and less stressful. I love racing because of its competitive nature and that it forces me to perform in any condition, and I enjoyed the many opportunities to race at different meets here in the US. Moreover, I improved my short course swimming so much that it is as fulfilling to me as swimming long course.

Back in Kazakhstan, swimming is more of an individual sport. Coming to the US and performing as a team has influenced me more than I ever thought it would.  It took me some time to realize how important the team really is, but when I did, it helped me to become my best.  Having an awesome team is truly an experience I have grown from. 

Having competed at NCAAs twice before, you’ve gained some significant exposure at the “Big Meet” by now. What have been your biggest takeaways from your two trips to NCAAs, and do you feel like it gets a little bit easier to approach Championship meets with each passing year?

Competing at the NCAA is definitely a learning process. The main difference (on the performance level) between the “Big Meet” and other meets is the taper. And since we taper only once or twice a year, it is hard to keep track of what is best for your body. I tried to learn what works best for me during taper (and what doesn’t), and feel more confident in my ability to perform. This year, for example, we tried not to taper much for the Hawkeye Invite, and I think it will help us perform better at Big Ten’s and NCAA’s.

What was your biggest “moment of realization” during your NCAA career?

During my training freshman year, I became overly focused on certain aspects of my swimming, such as stroke technique and stroke symmetry. Since I am very aware of my body, and the way I move through the water, I can feel what I am doing incorrectly at any particular moment. I was trying to correct my stroke and overthought it on a daily basis, sometimes even neglecting other important aspects of the training process. I knew that this focus made me forget about the bigger picture, but it was hard to ignore the technique specifics. And unfortunately, the whole situation was discouraging me.

I once came across a quote, “Focus on the excellence, not perfection,” and I decided to do exactly that. After multiple months of training with that mentality, I realized that it is helpful to balance out all the aspects of the training process. This philosophy helped me to become a better athlete and improve at a faster rate. As a result of this mode of thinking, I learned how to focus on overall body conditioning instead of very specific aspects of technique.

Do you have any plans/commitments following the completion of your collegiate career?

I plan to rejoin the Kazakhstan National Team and continue training through (at least) the 13th FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) that will take place in Windsor, Canada on December 2016. After that I will either continue my swimming career or pursue an MBA.

What should we look forward to from Iowa as a whole at this year’s Big Ten Championships?

The Iowa team has been improving every year and we are excited to do our best at the Big Ten Championships. After four years since winning the sprint freestyle relays at Big Tens, we have been able to build a strong freestyle team once again, and it will be very exciting to see what our guys can do.  We have solid medley and freestyle relays, and we plan to be top three in several events. We are confident and motivated to achieve great outcomes, and all the swimmers and divers have done their best preparing for the meet.

 

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About Varun Shivakumar

Varun Shivakumar hails from Hoffman Estates, IL and swam competitively for 16 years. He swam both backstroke events at Northwestern University, and ranks fifth in the school’s All-time performances list in the 200 yard backstroke. Representing NASA Wildcat Aquatics, he also competed in the 2012 Olympic Trials in Omaha, NE …

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