Svetlana, everyone was singing your praises at the World Championships. Nevertheless, your coach Tatiana Danchenko said that the place in duet for Tokyo 2020 is not guaranteed, neither for you nor for Aleksandra Patskevich. Are you ready to prove once again you really deserve it?

Yes, I am. I think you should never put yourself above the others. All the more so when you are the leader, you have to prove you are the best all the time. I got four gold medals in duet and solo in Budapest. But it doesn’t mean I’m without a rival because of my titles. New season – new goals. I’m full of energy and ready to work. I would like to perform in duet and solo. I would like to be back in the team routine, maybe next season. Our training camp started in October as usual. We’ll see how it will go and – the key point – what our coaches will decide about the team roster. They are great professionals. We don’t have any reasons to doubt their opinion and choices.

 

“We don’t have the right to melt down”

 

You have admitted that your Budapest performance made you more self-confident. Is that an important quality for an athlete?

It’s for sure an irreplaceable quality for the soloist. When you are all alone in the pool and in the prime focus of spectators and judges, you have to radiate confidence. In general, this is a right approach for all programmes – solo, duet or team. And it’s obvious that you are confident if you give it your best in training. We don’t have the right to melt down. Otherwise we will take a step back. All the girls in Team Russia understand the fundamental principles of our work. Thus we are very hardworking and determined.

 

What is your personal motivation to continue training, taking into account that you have an Olympic gold and so many world titles?

Maybe it will sound strange, but I don’t need any motivation. Synchronised swimming is my life and my love. I have a desire, good physical conditions and energy to train and to compete. Why should I stop? The main goal for the upcoming season is the European Championships. We have some changes in technical elements, so there will be good scope for work. As much as we dream of having a vacation after an exhausting championship, we miss synchro swimming during our two months off. I really have great expectations in the new season.

 

“I’m old-fashioned”

 

Speaking about your holiday, how did you spend it?

I had my seaside holidays in Dubai. In fact that was my eighth time there. We have our training camps with the Russian team in Dubai every year. I like this place. First of all, it’s only a five-hour flight. And I’m not one for transatlantic flights. I think I have an aerophobia to some degree. Secondly, I like the climate. Although this time it was extremely hot – 45 degrees Celsius, the water temperature was +37. But I felt comfortable. That’s way better than a cold Moscow summer. The sun, the sea, the warm breeze are the ingredients of my good mood and an energy battery for the following season.

 

When Russian synchro girls pose for a picture on the seashore they usually execute some elements. You also have one from Dubai – a handstand on the surf board on the water. I suppose it impressed the public on the beach greatly?

I don’t like to be the centre of attention. So I did this trick in a one-and-only attempt and chose the time when there was nobody around. By the way, to put that picture in the social media is not typical for me either. I’m not a media personality. I’m not one to exhibit my private life. My Instagram is more about sport. Besides I’m old- fashioned. I prefer face-to-face contact. I use internet or social media to get information or to watch videos of our rivals.

 

“I think I could be good at backstroke”

 

As a soloist and the leader of the team you have become more recognisable, more popular among fans and journalists. How do you feel about that?

Well, I’m not a Hollywood star. Paparazzi don’t hunt for me. My lifestyle and habits haven’t changed at all, so this attention doesn’t bother me. On the contrary, I want to thank all the fans for their support.

 

Is it true that you have a dream to get a master of sport rank in swimming? (This is an official degree in Russia – editor’s note.)

I have been good at swimming since childhood. Do you know that all our training sessions start with swimming preparation? Before we put on a nose clip and swim heads down, we have at least a 2km race. We even have a coach with a time-keeper on the pool deck. Of course we don’t wear racing suits and we don’t go from the starting blocks, so I can’t compare my results with the world best times in swimming. But I think I could be good at backstroke, so I will try to put my dream into action one day. I think I can do that even after the end of my synchro career. The age range in swimming is not so tough, so you may see me in the lane one day.