Katinka: ‘I have found the beauty in the road itself and I love it.’

After a training camp and two competitions, even if for a short period of time, but Katinka Hosszú is back at home again. We asked her about the previous weeks, the start of the year, her motivation and certainly about the most important goal.

  • This is your fourth full day at home this year, it seems, your life is back to the good old rhythm.

Only the fourth? Oh, so that is why I feel so good at home.

  • Although you travel a lot, after last year’s difficulties the start of this year was obviously much calmer.

It is indeed good that we have the plan, the goal, when and what to do. It is a thousand times easier than it was a year ago. I cannot imagine anything more awful than living without any direction, when one does not know why to work and get up in the mornings.

  • Okay, I see that you have the goal, but you still need to get out of bed somehow…

I am not a robot, I do not get up every day that I am going to win the Olympics in Tokyo. For example, today I got up easily, because we got home from Luxembourg yesterday, and I had a rest in the afternoon. That was my Sunday after the race, I recovered. Days like this, I am full of energy and I am keen on going down to the gym, such as this morning. Though, if you asked me on Friday, I would have given you a totally different answer. I often push the snooze button, even three times, but it is already built into my routine. By the way, I have my own strategy how to convince myself to get up. Since I like drinking coffee, coffee causes positive feelings, so I tell myself that I am going to have a coffee in the bed. Certainly, I do not go back to bed again. Then, it comes to my mind that Árpi and my swim mates already got up, shall I write them a message I am not going? In some difficult moments, I am not as motivated as I could be, therefore, I try to take smaller steps, I am glad for the small victories, and the end is, certainly, I am here by 6am.

  • Average people normally suffer from Monday morning as much as you with Friday.

My favorite is definitely Monday morning! I go down to gym full of energy and I start working with such a high spirit that I even do not realize when my energy is off.

  • You started the year with work, after Christmas, you travelled for a training camp to Hawaii. How do you think this method worked, and how was Hawaii?

It had many lessons to learn. It worked well, that in January, when it is dark and cold here, full of viruses, we could train in the sunshine with 30 degrees. We often held afternoon trainings on the beach, we ran and did drylands there. It was much better to do this tropical training camp now than in March, because it gave us a big push for the whole year. It was also good to meet the USC team, my ex-university team, and practice with them. Árpi got on well with Dave (Dave Salo, Katinka’s ex-coach in the university in US), they still keep in touch. Although, it is sure that we will not go this far next time. This 11-hour time difference was too much even for me with my experience. Coming back was even more difficult, we felt it on Day 1 of the first competition, the whole team was off in Antwerp.

  • If we are speaking about competitions, you have already had two this year. What are the experiences?

As I mentioned, in Antwerp the jetlag was a huge difficulty. We returned from Hawaii on Tuesday and left for the competition on Thursday. The first time I competed in Euro Meet was in 2013, and I am happy to see that the competition is getting more and more professional, the organizers consider the swimmers’ and coaches’ feedback. For example, now the first three fast heats of the preliminaries ended within an hour, so I did not have to spend hours in the swimming pool, and I could rest for the finals. It was a huge help for the swimmers. In Luxembourg, I was aiming to swim better than in Antwerp, and I did it. I love going to many races, because I have instant feedback what to pay attention, what technical elements I need to improve. They are more well-marked in a race than in a practice. Overall, I can say that due to the feedback we are going on the right direction.

  • This year will be high priority, ultimate year before the Olympics, world championships in summer… What lessons of last year can you build in?

I learnt a lot last year, and during my whole career. I was always the main critic of myself. I feel where to improve, how to swim faster. The previous year was useful, because I realized where did I start and how far I got. If you always look forward, you will see things differently, I think after a certain period of time you must look back to see where you have come from. Now I can use this experience, I am much more relaxed and self-confident. As an experienced swimmer, I can pay a better attention to my body and I try not to overload myself. This is my common mistake, I even do the exercise ten more times to be sure it is perfect.

  • You have been working with Árpi for half a year, does he remind you in this case? By the way, how could he get to know you, does he know what you need exactly?

The competitors must know a lot of things about themselves, since at the end of the day the swimmers must feel, whether it was enough, or they need more. Confirmation, however, is very important, and in my opinion, Árpi is a great outside eye. We can discuss everything. He has become stricter and more self-confident. I have to admit that he has no easy task. It is much more difficult to start working with an experienced swimmer than raise a young talent, with whom they can grow together. Árpi is very flexible, he copes with the situation very well. One must be crucially honest. If any of us does not like anything, we must tell it immediately and I think it works well between us.

  • There is one and a half year till the Olympics, you are not hiding that Tokyo is the big goal. This period can be very long and very short, as well. How can you focus on something very strongly?

Fairly speaking, I cannot imagine that it will ever finish! The competition in Luxembourg also meant good feedback, on Sunday, I felt such happiness, and I did not care how many people where around me, who saw me. I was happy that I was there, and I realized it again: I love doing this. Although, during the 100 free, after three events I won, I was so tired I vomited into the pool, but I swam further. For me the road is the best. I have found the beauty in the road itself, I love it.  I felt it before Rio, I know what feeling was before and after the Olympics. I know how I enjoyed the preparation and the road to the Olympics. I think every people must find their own road. Now I am going on my own road and there are still lots of challenges in swimming, this sport improves very dynamically. Everything happens for us, for the swimmers. I enjoy this road, the preparation for Tokyo, the changes in swimming.


Photos: Gian Mattia D’Alberto /LaPresse & Iron Swim

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