Russian Swimming Federation leader Vladimir Salnikov said on Saturday that he approached USA Swimming with a proposal to face off in a dual meet next February immediately after the 2024 World Championships in Doha, Qatar.
“I approached the U.S. Swimming Federation about holding a match meeting immediately after the world championships in Doha [in February 2024],” Salnikov said, according to Russian state-run media outlet TASS. “Now they are considering this proposal, but some people with whom I spoke, including the legendary American coach Mark Schubert, were very positive.”
Salnikov mentioned speaking with Mark Schubert, who served as National Team Director from 2006-10 and worked on eight consecutive U.S. Olympic team staffs from 1980 until 2008. However, Schubert unsuccessfully ran for a seat on USA Swimming’s Board of Directors this year as a self-nominated candidate.
Russian swimmers have been banned from international competition since last March for the ongoing war in Ukraine, but they are expected to return as neutral athletes at the 2024 World Championships. Salnikov has remained skeptical that Russian swimmers will compete at the Paris 2024 Olympics, insisting their focus is on the L.A. 2028 edition.
Russia’s dual meet proposal is complicated by the fact that the U.S. is only sending 18 swimmers to the 2024 World Championships, including just five women.
But if the meet did somehow take place, it wouldn’t be the first time the two nations have faced off in a dual meet as their rivalry dates back to the Soviet Union days in 1971. They also went head-to-head in 1978, 1981, and 1989.