Alla Shishkina is a 2-time Olympic champion, 11-time World champion, 5-time European champion from Russia. She is currently training on the Russian National Team in preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games.
Alla and I competed against each other at several World Championships. At the London and Rio Olympics we competed in different events - me in the duet and Alla in the team.
1) What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome in sport and how did you do it?
My whole sports career is filled with overcoming. I did not get into the junior team and wanted to quit sports. But my coach persuaded me to continue training. Then I managed to qualify for the national team. And all the years of training in the Russian national team is a daily, hard work 10 hours a day, 6 days a week.
2) After the Rio 2016 Olympics you took two years off of training. Was it difficult to come back to full-time training? How did you prepare for it?
The most important thing is to adjust your brain, and the body can be prepared. After Rio, I primarily wanted to relax morally. I resumed training for half a year before returning to the team in order to prepare my body and heart for serious exertion.
Alla’s (second from the bottom right) first Olympic medal in London 2012
Russia’s gold medal-winning free team in Rio 2016. Alla is the first on the bottom left.
3) What was your most memorable competition and why?
I think that the first world championship, Rome 2009. For me it was a test of myself as an athlete. After these competitions, I believed that I could do anything. And the Olympic Games of course. This is a major start for any athlete. The crown of career.
4) Many people wonder how the Russian team has stayed on top for so many years and if there is a secret to your training. Why do you think your team has been able to win consistently?
It's all about a unique combination of talented coaches and hard-working athletes. We are all fully immersed in the sport, this is our life. Both coaches and athletes live on a sports base 10 months a year. And work very hard.
5) What is the hardest part of your training?
When there is one month left before the competition. Then the most difficult part of the work begins. Work in the water without goggles, workouts for 10-11 hours a day.
6) Are there any rituals that you or your team do at a competition?
Everyone has their own, but the most important thing is that we always go to the start with the name of God.
7) What do you think is the most important personality trait for a top synchronized swimmer?
Good health, hard work and faith in your dream, no matter what and anyone.
8) What do you do to relax on your days off?
Only massage and sleep, there is no time for anything else.
9) What is the coaching style of Tatiana Pokrovskaya? Do you like it?
She is an authoritarian coach. Strict and uncompromising. This brings results, I think that any athlete of the world would have dreamed of working under her leadership.
10) Where do you see the sport going in the next five years?
If we talk about synchronized (artistic) swimming, then I would like to see more disciplines at the Olympic Games. It would be great if there were as many medals as at the World Championships.