17-year old Russian swimmer Kliment Kolesnikov will focus on backstroke races this summer, his coach Dmitry Lazarev told Russian media earlier this week. The 2018 Russian National Championship, which is the selection meet for this summer’s European Championships, will be held in Moscow from April 20th-25th.
There, the young Kolesnikov will swim the 50, 100, and 200 meters backstroke and, if chosen, those will be his individual events for the European meet as well. He’
Kolesnikov’s slow build to international prominence exploded into full-blown stardom in December of 2017 when he won 4 European Short Course Championships. He followed that up with a 48.90 in the 100 short course meters backstroke, which was good enough to break the old World Record held by American Matt Grevers.
Kolesnikov is the current World Junior Record holder in 7 different events: the 100 and 200 meter backstrokes in long course, the 50, 100, and 200 meter backstrokes in short course, and the 50 and 200 meter freestyles in short course.
In his only meet of 2018 so far (and first long course meet since breaking the 100 backstroke record in short course), he swam the 100 free, 50 back, 100 back, and 200 IM at the Euro Meet in January. The results included a new lifetime best in the 100 free of 48.52, as well as gold medals in the 50 back (25.32) and 100 back (54.31). He placed 3rd in the 200 IM in 2:00.95.
To qualify for the European Championships, which open in Glasgow on August 3rd, Kolesnikov must swim a 24.88 in the 50 back, 53.98 in the 100 back, and a 1:57.13 in the 200 back at the Russian Championships. While his personal bests easily clear the standards in the 100 (53.35) and especially the 200 (1:55.14), his 50 backstroke mark of 24.94 is currently short of the qualifying standard.
He also must finish in the top 2 among Russians to go to the European Championships. In 2017, he was just the 4th-ranked 50 backstroker, the 3rd ranked 100 backstroker, and the 2nd-ranked 200 backstroker, all behind World Champion Evgeny Rylov, who at 22 years old is older than Kolesnikov, but not out of the prime of improvement either. He did have shoulder surgery after Worlds, however, and has only raced once since the World Championships: a short course 50 fly in December.
With each nation allotted 4 slots per event at the European Championships, Russia will fill its remaining slots with some discretionary entries based on coaches’ choices – which for Kolesnikov could include a 50 free and 100 free.