Discover Masters World: Lucia Molnarova & Veronika Strapekova (SVK)
One of these 13th FINA Masters World Championships’ latest sensations was revealed with Slovakia making its first appearance in the Team and Combination events at world level. Overall, the Slovakian ‘mermaids’ proved themselves tremendous performers, picking up three golds in Solo (swum by Lucia Molnarova), Team and Combination and one silver medal in Duet (swum by Lucia and Veronika Strapekova) in Gothenburg (SWE).
Lucia, 26, and Veronika, 32, who both swim for the Iuventa Bratislava in Slovakia, explain what lies behind their success: “Some teammates have swum at very high level”, says Veronika, who represented Slovakia at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. As to Lucia, she swam at Open level until 2006.
Veronika took part in the FINA World Championships in Perth (1998) and Barcelona (2003), while Lucia competed at the same event in Montreal (2005) and concluded with the European championships in Budapest (2006).
Last year they were six girls competing at the European Masters championships in Caddice (ESP) and this year, they came with a 10-strong team for their international premiere in Team and Combination events. Both praise the level of competition at the World Masters as well as the presence of synchro clubs from all over the world.
Veronika and Lucia started synchro around ten years of age. Lucia was practicing gymnastics but because of her asthma, she was told to try aquatics.
The team trains two to three times a week but the training usually intensifies as competition comes close. Veronika, like some of her teammates, is the mother of two children and admits that sometimes it is difficult to arrange everyone for practice.
The team has been swimming for more than ten years together, so training has also become a nice get-together: “It’s fun to keep swimming together; we’re all friends and it’s the reason why we keep doing it,” says Veronika. “Training is a good reason to see each other and to disappear from the house [for competitions abroad] allows for a good time off too!” she laughs.
And because they practice less than before, Veronika and her teammates make full advantage of their training sessions: “We don’t waste our time; we have little time to train so we give everything we have,” she adds.
Their coach, who couldn’t come because she is expecting a baby, is also Slovakian. In Gothenburg, the team is pretty much on their own, which is not a problem: “As kids we could not be left alone but now that we are older, we have acquired discipline in training,” asserts Veronika.
When asked whether synchro suits any age, they give an enthusiastic, straightforward reply: “It’s wonderful to see ladies aged 60-70 and still swimming, jumping in the water and doing figures. It’s amazing! When we are watching them, we have tears in our eyes.” Veronika and Lucia decisively hope to show the same great example in a few decades.
Their message to potential Masters synchro swimmers is encouraging: “Here, everyone can win.” The Slovakian team’s victories at the Masters in Gothenburg are indeed a nice demonstration of the many successful opportunities that this competition offers to all nations.