Russian swimming head coach Sergey Chepik has reiterated that most of Russia‘s top swimmers will continue to train for the Olympics after news broke earlier this week that their Olympic Trials would be postponed indefinitely due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Thus, Russia‘s best will train together at a pool in Volgograd, a city located in the southwestern region of the country. Two contingents of Russia‘s national team were set to travel for training camps in different countries, one to Turkey and one to Armenia, but those trips have been called off. Now, most of the top swimmers are together with Chepik in Volgograd.
“We cannot stop the training of athletes and must work before the Olympic Games, using any opportunities,” Chepik said in an interview posted on Russia’s Olympic committee website.
“In addition, no one gave any instructions on the suspension of training events, but we need to train. The methodology is structured in such a way that we cannot skip or force any stage of preparation. Everything is going on sequentially, one training cycle after another. Moreover, if one of them failed, then you can no longer move on to the next. Therefore, we try to save all this, to keep the shape of the athletes.”
Chepik said that training will go on in two shifts, and said that there is a ‘guarantee’ right now that the pool in Volgograd will not be quarantined.
Swimmers coming into the country from abroad will have to undergo the two-week isolation period before joining the training camp, Chepik said, noting they have had several people self-isolate so far. When asked about Vladimir Morozov and Yulia Efimova, two of the country’s most well-known swimmers, Chepik said that they were in the United States, where they must ‘take part in two competitions,’ though it’s unclear via the translation if this means they are actually competing or if this means something else entirely. If they were to compete, they’d have to work around the recent USA Swimming mandate banning all sanctioned activity, which would include meets and practices with a USA Swimming club.
Chepik responded to another question about the now-postponed European Championships, which were slotted for May in Budapest, saying they want to continue training as if it were still happening.
He said that athletes must compete after a cyclical training block, and to gauge results and perform at a high level, they will likely hold a time trial in place of Euros.
Chepik does not think that the swimmers’ salaries will be affected, and alluded that the Russian National Cup set for July could serve as a qualifying meet of sorts for the Olympics should they continue as planned.
Aside from all of this, Russia is currently facing a ban from WADA which would bar their athletes from competing under the Russian flag at the 2020 Olympics. They’ve since appealed this ban. Since then, the WADA has requested for a public hearing to decide Russia‘s fate; that request was not granted by CAS, though, as a consensus was not reached on the measure. The CAS won’t hold in-person hearings until at least May of this year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, though they had already said the Russia hearing wouldn’t happen until at least May.