Russian Revival with Records from Rylov and Chupkov

2017 FINA WORLD SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Russian 20-year old Evgeny Rylov has broken a drought that’s almost hard to believe. Russia hadn’t won a men’s event at a long course World Championship or Olympic Games since 2003 before his win on Saturday evening in Budapest. That was 14 years ago.

And Rylov snapped that early in Friday’s session when he won the 200 backstroke in a European Record of 1:53.61.

And then, his teammate Anton Chupkov backed it up less than an hour later by winning the 200 breaststroke in 2:06.96. The Russian men had never won that event before at Worlds.

With all of the great Russian swimmers, medalists, and record-breakers who have come through since then, not a single has landed atop the podium at one of the world’s two premier meets. In fact, at the Olympics the drought goes back to the 1996 Olympics, when Alexander Popov won the 100 free in Atlanta and Denis Pankratov won the 100 fly and 200 fly.

That means no wins for Vlad Morozov, no wins for Arkady Vyatchanin, no wins for Evgeny Korotyshkin, or any of Russia’s other World Record holders.

If all of Russia’s previous iterations are combined (The Soviet Union and the Unified team), they’ve got 63 Olympic medals – which is the 4th-most in history – and 18 golds – which is tied for 3rd most in history. At World Championships, they combine for 18 gold medals as well plus 81 total medals since 1973 – which stands alone as 3rd-most in history.

Russia can truly make a claim as one of the greatest men’s swimming countries in history, and yet until Saturday, they had an epic 14-year drought from putting a man at the top of the world.

Russia has had opportunities – but those opportunities have ended so often in disaster. Their 400 free relays have been contenders or favorites for most of the decade; Danila Izotov looked like he’d be the next great Russian freestyler, but never came close to hitting the potential he showed as a teenager; and the doping cloud has hung over their head for years as a distraction – even to those Russians who have never tested positive.

But last year, where being Russian in Rio was a nightmare with so much uncertainty about whether they’d even be able to compete, Chupkov and Rylov were the two men who managed to medal. Breaststroker Yulia Efimova was the only female medalist for the Russian swimmers in Rio, and she won the 200 breaststroke on Friday as well. That gave the Russians 3 consecutive World Championships – one of the better days in Russian swimming in recent memory.

Given the doping scandals that have embroiled the country for years (and across generations), any Russian success will be questioned by the global sporting community. Based on its face, however, these two young Russian men are bringing some stability away from the circus that has shrouded their more veteran counterparts.

Day 6 National Records

  • James Guy, Great Britain – men’s 100 fly – 50.67
  • Kristof Milak, Hungary – men’s 100 fly – 50.7
  • Evgeny Rylov, Russia – men’s 200 back- 1:53.61
  • Pernille Blume, Denmark – women’s 100 free – 52.69
  • Peter Bernek, Hungary – 200 back – 1:55.58
  • Mehdy Metella, France – men’s 100 fly – 51.06
  • Piero Codia, Italy – men’s 100 fly – 51.09
  • Melanie Henique, France – women’s 50 fly – 25.63
  • Anton Chupkov, Russia – men’s 200 breast – 2:06.96
  • Great Britain – 4×200 Free Relay – 7:01.70

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Proving Meldonium wasn’t such a big factor anyhow . Fake PED!

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