Swimming hopeful Korotyshkin ready to cope with Olympic pressure
It's hard to imagine that one of Russia's biggest hopes for a medal at the London Games was almost at the point of retiring, four years ago.
Korotyshkin started thinking of abandoning the pool after he failed to qualify for the finals in his favorite 100 metres butterfly at the Beijing Olympics.
But help came in the form of a Serbian Olympic silver medalist.
“I was desperate, and I wanted to quit,” Korotyshkin said. “But, luckily, Milorad Cavic invited me to train with his coach Andre di Nino in Italy, so we could progress together. I wasn't really interested in swimming, as such. I just wanted to see new methods of training from a coach who had learned in the US. I said to myself – a new language, a new country – it's a good experience even if I don't improve. So I jumped in with both feet.”
Since then, Korotyshkin has learned to enjoy swimming again and his results have certainly improved.
He has set world records in short courses under new coach di Nino, and won gold, silver and bronze at the European championships in 2010.
And he also topped the Moscow stage of the World Cup in 2011, beating both 14-time Olympic champion Michael Phelps and his training partner, Cavic.
“I feel I have truly become a swimmer, and learned a lot in Russia,” the 29-year-old stressed. “I've become a hard worker. But, sometimes, I regret that I didn't leave to train abroad earlier. The training sessions are almost the same but the surrounding atmosphere is completely different. You don't get bored of the routine. And, for me, it's easier to focus on training when I'm away from home.”
Beating Phelps in the Olympiyskiy pool where Korotyshkin's mother taught him to swim, gave the Russian a boost of confidence.
However, it's not his opponents that are on the mind of the two-time world record holder, ahead of this summer's Olympics.
“I won gold at the European and World championships and I set world records,” the swimmer said. “But nothing can be compared with the Olympic Games. The psychological pressure is extremely high. And you start hesitating and wondering if you're ready for that. Of course I'm ready. I've been preparing for this my whole life.”
At his age, it will be his third and probably last Olympic Games. Korotyshkin who is also Russia's captain is surely ready to make a big splash in London.