Hosszu: "I always learn something new, even after 20 years of swimming!"
Hungary's Katinka Hosszu is attending the SportAccord Convention in Belek, Turkey this week. The current 200m and 400m IM World champion is on-hand both in and out the pool as she is to take part in a practice session with kids from the local swimming clubs today and the first-ever "Youth Club" discussion panel on Thursday April 10, together with other outstanding young athletes.
Always flashing a smile, the 24-year-old is creating the buzz at the FINA stand in the Susesi Convention Centre. The Iron Lady of swimming takes a moment to reflect on her career, goals and aspirations for the sport she loves so much.
Winner of the 2012 and 2013 FINA World Cups, what is your training secret to swim so many events?
I train eight to nine hours a day, five in the morning and three to four in the afternoon. It’s a lot of work but it’s also my passion: I love to swim.
Do you train differently for the World Cup than for other championships? In which way?
Given that my specialty is IM, I have to train all strokes and that’s also why I’ve been competing in all the different strokes during the World Cup. Of course, for the World Championships and the Olympics I will only prepare for 200m IM and the 400m IM.
What makes the FINA World Cup attractive to athletes?
The prize money, the environment at the event – a place with the top athletes – and a great overall vibe.
What are your goals leading up to the Rio Games?
During the last Olympic Games I came in fourth which is the worst position. This time around I am hoping to get to the podium and I am therefore training with that in mind. There is the Maria Lenk Trophy in Sao Paulo, Brazil, which is coming up and will be a good place to see where I’m at in terms of times followed by the Singapore Swim Stars challenge in September and maybe others leading up to the FINA Swimming World Cup and FINA short-course Swimming World Championships in Doha, Qatar.
How would you describe your swimming career in a few words?
Swimming is a passion. I love how it feels like being in the water, feeling the strokes as I swim. There’s always something to work on, to improve and I find it really fun. Year in and year out, I always learn something new: even after 20 years of swimming!
Tomorrow, you will take part in the Youth Club panel to discuss the challenges of attracting a younger generation of viewers to the Olympic Games. How do you think the visibility of your sport can be improved to attract more people?
I want swimming to become a professional sport like athletics or basketball, a sport that is followed year-round and that people enjoy watching – not only a sport that is enjoyed during the Olympic Games or World Championships.
If you had to promote swimming to youth around the world, how would you proceed?
I would remind them that being an elite athlete is a lot of hard work and it’s not always easy. I’ve also had some hard times and some times of doubt. We can always find an excuse not to train but young swimmers should remember that it’s not the excuses that will get you far. Nobody at the world championships will care about your excuses if you haven’t done a good time. With the appropriate training and determination, the results will come automatically.
From Viktoria Dijakovic in Belek, edited by Sarah Chiarello