Vsevolod Zanko was honored following the conclusion of this past week’s Russian National Swimming Championship. Zanko’s winning performance in the 100 breaststroke (59.72) earned 912 FINA points and thus qualified him for the award. While there were several other swims in the competition that exceeded this level, the award was specifically based on the 100 breaststroke.
The award was specifically named after Leonid Meshkov, who was the first Russian swimmer to have a recognized world record. Meshkov set his first record in the 100 breaststroke in 1949, swimming 1:07.20. He would eventually lower that record to 1:06.50. If Meshkov were alive today he would be 100 years old today, so the decision was made to honor him.
Breaststroke has traditionally been a strength of the Russian team and their Soviet predecessors. There have been five more 100 breaststroke World Record holders coming out of those nations since Meshkov’s time. However, the swimmer directly following Meshkov, Georgy Prokopenko, was actually born in what is now Ukraine. The last Russian swimmer to hold the record was Roman Sloudnov, who had a long career that included a gold medal at the 2001 World Championship and bronze at the 2000 Olympics.