World Junior Record holder Apostolos Papastamos has been forced to change his training grounds after a problem arose with the pool in his home town of Chania, Crete.
The 18-year old Papastamos will now train at the OAKA Swimming Pool in Athens, Greece. Chania, on the island of Crete, is a 9-hour ferry ride away from his new training site in Athens, or a short 50-minute plane ride.
The problem in Chania arose due to financial constraints on the operator of his home pool in Chania, which informed the Hellenic Swimming Federation that they could no longer afford to heat the pool. This allowed the pool temperature to drop below 24 degrees Celsius (75 Fahrenheit), well below the typical minimum competition temperature of 78 Fahrenheit.
The expenses for Papastamos’ move are being covered by the Greek federation (KOE).
“The Apostle has come to Athens, where he will continue his preparation at the OAKA,” said Chirstodoulos Houmas, technical adviser of the KOE. :He trains in the lanes paid for by the KOE at the OAKA Swimming Pool, while his coach, Costas Tsilivakis, tries to be with him during his preparation. The federation will cover the costs of the athlete’s accommodation for the time being Athens. It is a major blow for swimming for all children who train there, but especially for Papastamos, which has reached the time standard for the Olympics and is a great hope for the future in the sport.
“As the KOE, all we can do is make the matter public and inform the relevant authorities, as we do not have the funds to heat swimming pools. Swimmers’ training falls apart when they lose training for even 2-3 days, or train at low temperatures. All swimming pools need to be kept in good working order, let alone the ones trained in by World Champions. We must also not forget that in these swimming pools we are developing, in cooperation with the General Secretariat of Sports and the Ministry of Education, support the curriculum of teaching swimming to the children of 3rd and 4th grade, so such situations are impacted as well. It’s all done because the swimming federation does not have its own swimming center where the National Teams are prepared. It is a chronic request, and we got our hands on the Zappeion swimming pool, where we have organized it very well.”
Papastamos’ coach says that he is working with the pool hosts to resolve the matter with the pool in Chania, and that he hopes when they return from a training camp in Turkey that begins on February 19th, a solution will be found.
Last summer, Papastamos took bronze in the 200 IM in 1:59.62 and gold in the 400 IM in 4:11.93 at the World Junior Swimming Championships. His 400 IM time broke the World and European Junior Records, in addition to the Greek all-ages record. The swim ranked him 6th in the world
For the young Papastamos, experience at the senior level is still very low. He has not yet raced at a senior World Championship in either long course or short course, and he hasn’t had much success at the European Championships: in the summer of 2018, he was 16th at Euros in the 400 IM in long course (4:20.43), and in his last meet at the Short Course European Championships in December, his best finish was 27th in the 400 IM (4:25.38 – short course meters).