Official website of 16th FINA World Championships 2015 in Kazan
16th FINA World Championships

July 24 - August 9, 2015

Svetlana Romashina: Hard work is key to success

03.08.2015, 17:00 Interviews
After all the competitions and victories, Russian synchronised swimmer Svetlana Romashina talked about her sports career, shared her plans for future and revealed details of preparations for a triumphant performance.

– What was it like, when you won gold?

– When I returned to my room, I had a comforting feeling of satisfaction, a feeling of a job well done. But during the awarding ceremony it was different. The medals in Kazan have become very special to me, because the public here, with its support and standing ovations, make you feel like home, as if all of them were my relatives who came to see me.

– And the cries of fans, are they not confusing?

– To me, they are rather supportive. My coach calls me a ‘Lighter’. I only need a couple of spectators at a training session to perform at my best level, because I always want to demonstrate my class and my skills. And with the public like here it is always a pleasure. The roar from the stands is so strong that you could hear it underwater. You come up out of the water and can even feel the pressure in your ears, that is how they support you in the stands.

– You clearly aimed at gold at the Championships, didn't you?

– Athletes are superstitious; no one will tell you that. But we understand the expectations - only gold. In our discipline, silver and bronze medals shall be deemed a failure, so we bear certain responsibility here.

– In the last performance you acted as an Alien. How did you get to this space-related idea?

– We always come up with such ideas together. First, we agreed on an image, it was supposed to be something new, never seen before. Then, we had to find adequate music for the image, which took quite long. And only after that things got on faster, we organised the staging, the movements. In our movements we tried to imitate space-like dynamics. Unusual, awkward – not something you see every day. Probably that was what surprised the referees and the audience. We always want to be different, I hope that we have managed to.

– How do you make your routines original?

– This is our normal workflow. My partner Natalia Ishchenko and I are in the water, the coach is on the edge, and everyone comes up with their own versions and ideas. Sometimes Natalia and I would make an element, and our coach Tatiana Danchenko would immediately make up the development. This is real teamwork, and very often we understand each other without words.

– And who is in charge of costumes?

– We have a special person, Natalia Bolshakova; for several years she has been our personal designer for solo and duet performances. We do sketches together, describe what we'd like to see in a swimsuit. Sometimes Natalia attends our training, to hear music, see the routine, and better understand all the details. Then we select a sketch, and about a week before the competition we get our swimsuits ready. We want to try them on every time before the competition, to see how they work in the water.

– How do you choose music?

– Sometimes, the same music might appear quite differently to an athlete and a coach. Perhaps this is rather an advantage to have a whole team; this makes the routine more exciting. In general, our season begins with music listening sessions, we do a lot of that in the water, in the gym, or at home. And we listen on and on until we come upon something interesting, which was not done before.

– What are the criteria for a successful performance?

– I would say that hard work is a key to successful performance. Without that, without respect for your partner you will never reach anything. I love saying ‘Heaven helps those them who help themselves.’ No matter how talented you may be, if you are not motivated, have no aspiration, nor goal, you will gain nothing.

– Do you have any special diet?

– Honestly, I do not do them anymore. No matter how much I eat or exercise, my weight and sizes do not change. Just a month before the competition I felt I was starting to dry up, and it became more and more difficult for me to train. The coach stepped in the right moment, advised that I should eat more meat, and then I got back to normal. And no diets at the moment.

– What is your typical training day like?

– I'll tell you about a typical day before the World Championships. I performed only in solo and duet routines, so I had one training session, unlike the girls from the group. I got up at 6 o'clock, came to their training centre, and started training at 8:00. It lasted from 8:00 to 12:30 in the water, after which we went for 1-1.5 hours to the gym for general physical exercises and stretching; then, it was time for massage and lunch, and then we went home. At 17:00 I was at home and had free time.

– What are you thinking about before performances?

– I try not to think about anything before performances; I drive away all thoughts. I can say that before the start here in Kazan, we were standing behind a curtain, and I wanted to open it, have a peep at the audience, find my parents who were there and watched, but then I realised that it was the World Championships, you can't do that. I drove away the thoughts, concentrated on my routine only, and ran through my routine in my mind trying to make it even better.

– Are you nervous before the competition?

– Always, inexplicably so. But I think that the coach is more nervous, because she obviously has no control over the performance personally. And I think it is normal for an athlete to be nervous. When we are 100% confident, although this is a rare case, then something is probably going wrong. If I'm nervous, then everything is OK.

– Do you have any tricks to attract good luck?

– Athletes are superstitious. I will not name the tricks, but I can say that we try to ignore the dreams we have before the competitions. We start the day and spend it as efficiently as the day before (if this is the case).

– What were your feelings when preparing for the home championships in Kazan?

– Well, it was exciting. But I was sure that everything would be fine. For us it was a great responsibility to perform at home, and we could not do it wrong.

– Do you have time to see the city?

– Unfortunately, we only see it through a bus window. We do not have the opportunity to walk around that often, and even if we do, we tend to rush home, because we are very tired and want to come back to our families and friends, have a rest. It is probably my tenth time in Kazan. During my last time I simply had a rest and competed at the Universiade, this is a very home-like city to me.

– You usually perform in front of a huge number of people. How do you tame your emotions? Do you feel the burden of responsibility towards the audience?

– We feel responsible only for the result. Honestly, I cannot say that we are incredibly preoccupied with the number of people watching us. This is probably one of the components of our excitement. And it helps me. I believe that this is some sort of support, the energy bundle that gives me impulse to move on.

– Your sport is very much like art. In this regard, do you like ballet?

– Yes, I do love ballet; I was in the Bolshoi Theatre recently and watched a ballet on a small stage. We ourselves do a lot of choreography and we include it in our school programmes for children; we have our own choreographer, Nikolay, he used to work in the Bolshoi Theatre before. This sport is really very similar to ballet. I cannot say that we directly borrow some elements, but we perform with similar aesthetics and plastic, this is what we tend to copy from our dancers.

– How do you see your future in 10-15 years?

– That is the most difficult question for an athlete: “What happens after sport?". When you perform, you know you are a number one person, you're in the spotlight, millions of people are watching you. And once you leave it, you may feel depressed and do not know what to do. Very often we cannot do anything else except swimming, running or playing basketball or volleyball, because we have not had time to do something in parallel. We even might have studied, but this is not enough, as you also need experience and practice. Many athletes open their sports schools and clubs. I hope I will also have such an opportunity. But I am not thinking about it seriously. Because today you have something on your mind, and tomorrow brings something totally different. My nearest goal is to have a good rest. Then, I will prepare for the Olympic Games in Rio, and then we'll see, because every girl wants a family and children, I think I will go that way, too.

– Opening of schools and clubs after the end of sports career - is it the only option?

– No, definitely not. Everyone knows, some athletes go into politics or something else. But I cannot say that this is the easiest step, because it is incredibly difficult. Sport facilities and swimming pools are very expensive. You would need to find sponsors and make sure that sports clubs will want to work with you. A big part of work needs to be prepared when you are still an athlete, someone manages that, someone not.

– You certainly know the sense of drive, vigour, don't you? How do you get it?

– Yes, it's a familiar feeling to me, and I must admit, I have more of it during training sessions, because during competitions we try to hide all emotions. Each athlete has his/her own emotions, and sometimes you can get overexcited. The coach can do it on purpose at the training session, to cheer us up to make us execute the routine in this state, because as soon as you have given all the emotions, it becomes much more difficult to perform well.

– What do you think about the organisation of the Championships in Kazan?

– I really like how everything is organised here. This is my 6th or 7th World Championships, and I can feel the difference. Logistics is very well-organised. Athletes have no problems with arriving to a sports venue, there are no problems with accommodation. The swimming pool is phenomenal; it is built on the pitch of a football stadium for the first time in FINA history. It felt strange in the beginning with those huge stands, we did not even understand where we were. But you get used to it very quickly and now it seems a huge advantage to be able to attract so many people here. I like everything about it. I worried whether Kazan was capable of organising the Championships to such a high standard, because I was here at the 2013 Summer Universiade and I knew that the Championships must be even better. I think everything is great here.

Svetlana Romashina is the Russian synchronised swimmer, 3-time Olympic champion, 18-time world champion, 7-time European champion. She is one of the most successful athletes in the history of synchronised swimming.

Press Office of Organising Committee for 16th FINA World Championships

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Interview with Svetlana Romashina
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