After ending her record-breaking career this summer, five-time Olympics champion Anastasia Davydova has to turned to coaching, aiming to further raise Russia's profile in the sport of synchronized swimming.
Davydova won't have to hide her trademark butterfly tattoos now that she is retired from competitive sports. Just a month shy of turning 30, the Olympic champion is now a full-time coach.
Her triumph in the London 2012 Olympic Summer Games still evokes sweet memories, she said.
“London Games was very emotional for me,” Davydova told RT. “Claiming gold number five is not something that happens to you every day. Going into the Games, I knew I'd be proud of myself for coming back and winning again. And so it turned out.”
Davydova had been retired for a year before her wins in the British capital made her the most-decorated synchronized swimmer of the games.
She now aims for further Olympic glory as a coach, even beyond the 2016 Rio Games. Bringing up the next generation of champions takes more than just skill – the swimmer-turned-coach spends up to 13 hours a day poolside
“Patience is the main thing, and I'm doing my best to always stay calm,” she explained. “Because when you've perfected your own sport, you just don't understand how others can find it difficult. Other than that, I'm experienced enough to train others and I can explain to my charges what needs to be explained in great detail.”
Davydova could have earned more if the 13-time world champion had accepted one of many offers to work abroad. Her former duet partner Anastasia Ermakova has already moved to Italy to coach.
But Davydova rates results over money, praising Russia's system for training future athletes.
“For us, sport comes before school,” she said. “Of course, kids are still being educated but they either hire tutors or take exams without actually attending. Training takes up most of their time from about the age of nine. So they are fully prepared to compete for the national team if and when they are called up. This approach is unique.”
Russia has been a dominant presence in the sport since the 2000 Sydney Games. Even with a host of Russian greats now retired, the country's national team still boasts stars such as Natalia Ischenko and Svetlana Romashina.
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