Andrei Minakov breaks Kyle Chalmers' 100m free junior world record at Russian nationals

All the headlines from the Russian Championships in Kazan where teenagers Minakov, Daria Vaskina, Evgenia Chikunova, and Ilya Borodin were in superb form.

By Rory Jiwani

Andrei Minakov ended the Russian Swimming Championships in style with a world junior record to win the men's 100m freestyle.

The 18-year-old, who won six golds at the 2018 Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games, clocked 47.57s in Kazan on Friday (30 October) to eclipse Kyle Chalmers' gold medal swim at Rio 2016 by one-hundredth of a second.

Minakov won from Russian record holder Vladislav Grinev with Alexander Shchegolev taking third.

It capped a fine week for the youngster, who also won the 100m butterfly title and three relay crowns with St Petersburg, as well as two second-placed finishes.

Daria Vaskina claimed three golds in Buenos Aires, and she took more individual wins than anyone else in Kazan with victories over 50m and 100m in both backstroke and butterfly.

Evgenia Chikunova also shone, with the 15-year-old breaststroke prodigy taking three individual victories and two medley relay titles for St Petersburg, including one with Minakov.

Two-time world 200m breaststroke champion and Rio 2016 bronze medallist Anton Chupkov won an individual breaststroke double and broke the national 100m record, while 17-year-old Ilya Borodin won two individual medley titles in Russian record times, breaking the world junior record in the 400 I.M.

Andrei Minakov won five golds out of seven medals in total - breaking two world junior records in the process - at the 2020 Russian Championships in Kazan

Minakov in top form

Andrei Minakov continues to go from strength to strength.

He was not quite perfect in Kazan, losing out to 2019 world silver medallist Oleg Kostin in the 50m butterfly, a non-Olympic event.

In the semi-finals, Minakov set a new world junior record of 23.05s beating Ukrainian Vladyslav Bukhov's mark set in January by 0.09s.

He was unable to match those heroics in the final, clocking 23.22s to Kostin's impressive 22.82s.

Minakov did however win the 100m butterfly, the event in which he claimed world silver last year, ahead of Egor Kuimov with Kostin third.

His 100 free victory was significant for that world junior record, but runner-up Vladislav Grinev should be closer the next time they meet.

The 24-year-old took bronze at last year's Worlds in Gwangju, but told SwimSwam he had weight issues leaving his legs feeling "weak" stemming from when this competition was postponed from the spring due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Grinev said, "I sat at home, began to eat a lot, and the weight went up. I then removed certain foods, the weight went down, but I lost even more than I planned – seven kilograms.”

No such issues for Minakov, who hopes to compete at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 before going to Stanford University, but speaking ahead of the final day of competition in Kazan even he was surprised by the level of his form.

He said, "When we were in quarantine, there was no understanding at all at what speed I’ll get out by this time."

"I am satisfied that I managed to please the coaches and fans. I try to think positively: if there are no international competitions before the selection, then there will be good competition in Russia." - Andrei Minakov in SwimSwam

Daria Vaskina a class apart in Kazan

Like Minakov, Daria Vaskina made her breakthrough in Buenos Aires with three golds, a silver, and a bronze at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games.

Last year, she won bronze in the 50m backstroke at the World Championships.

In Kazan, she claimed no fewer than four titles, starting with the 100m backstroke where her winning time of 1:00.16 was inside the Tokyo 2020 qualifying mark.

The 18-year-old then won the 50m butterfly and 50m backstroke, before completing her quartet of event wins on the final day in the 100m butterfly, taking victory in 58.63s.

Three-time Buenos Aires 2018 YOG gold medallist Daria Vaskina won four golds at the 2020 Russian Championships in Kazan (Photo: OIS/Joel Marklund)

Remember the name: Evgenia Chikunova

Evgenia Chikunova was just 14 when she won the 100m and 200m breaststroke double at last year's World Junior Championships in Budapest.

The youngster turns 16 next month and showed more evidence of her talent in Kazan with individual breaststroke wins at 50m, 100m, and 200m.

She clocked 30.81s to break the Russian 50m breaststroke junior record previously held by double Rio silver medallist Yuliya Efimova who was unable to compete due to travel restrictions.

Chikunova then won the 100m and completed a hat-trick of individual titles in the 200m on the final day, with Maria Temnikova for the third time having to settle for second.

Victories with St Petersburg in the 4x100m women's medley relay and the 4x100m mixed medley relay made it a total of five titles for the teenager.

Chikunova is certainly a talent for the future but told SwimSwam there is plenty of room of progress.

"It may seem that I win easily, but this is not so. I cannot say that my opponents are weak – Masha Temnikova breathed down my back. We are constantly working on the technique, constantly trying to improve something." - Evgenia Chikunova

Two other swimmers won three individual crowns in Kazan.

Alexander Egorov was victorious in the 400m, 800m, and 1500m freestyle events, while Rio 2016 Olympian Grigory Tarasevich took all three backstroke titles - the 50m, 100m, and 200m.

Tarasevich won 100m backstroke gold at last year's Universiade in Naples.

Grigory Tarasevich claimed all three backstroke titles at the Russian Championships in Kazan

Chupkov doubles up in style

There first of two Russian records of the second day of competition came courtesy of Anton Chupkov in the 100m breaststroke.

While better known for his exploits over 200m, the event in which he is the reigning two-time world champion and Olympic bronze medallist, the 23-year-old showed his versatility with victory over the shorter distance in 58.83s more than a second clear of his rivals.

That was 0.36s faster than his own national record set in finishing eighth at last year's Worlds in Gwangju and puts him 15th on the all-time list although he would have to improve markedly to challenge reigning world and Olympic champion Adam Peaty.

Chupkov then won the 200m breaststroke in 2:07.32, 1.2s outside his own world record set in taking gold in Gwangju and the second fastest time in the world this year behind Japan's Sato Shoma.

He admitted to fatigue afterwards, telling SwimSwam, "I was very tired, just tired, psychologically and physically. This tiredness from so many years of training, accumulated. But such seconds make us go forward and improve them even more. So we will work.

"The result is decent, after all, a year without major starts. I think the coaches and management will be happy."

Borodin makes his mark

Ilya Borodin set the second Russian record on day two in Kazan in the 200m individual medley.

The 17-year-old touched the wall in 1:58.00, eclipsing the time set by Andrey Zhilkin at last year's World Championships.

But he was far from done as he produced a superb swim in the 400 I.M on the penultimate day of competition.

As well as breaking his own national record, which he clocked in taking silver at last year's World Junior Championships behind Apostolos Papastamos, his time of 4:11.50 also beat the Greek's world junior record set in Budapest.

To give an idea of how good Borodin's performance was, that time would have been good enough for bronze at last year's Gwangju Worlds.