Aleksey Akatyev Talks About Open Water And Coaching On WOWSA Live

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International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame chairperson Ned Denison interviewed Russian world champion and Olympian Aleksey Akatyev (Alexei Akatiev or Алексей Акатьев) on today’s WOWSA Live.

The 46-year-old was a world-class pool and marathon swimmer who was inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 2009.

He was the first Russian to transition seamlessly between competing as a world-class pool swimmer to competing as a world-class open water swimmer. He won FINA World Championship medals before and after competing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics where he finished 17th in the 400m freestyle (3:55.72) and 8th in the 1500m freestyle (15:16.47).

Two years after competing in the Olympics, he dominated the open water swimming competition at the 1998 FINA World Swimming Championships in Perth, Australia, winning both the 5 km and 25 km races.

But arguably his greatest feat where he was burdened with a heavy sense of responsibility came in 2000 at the FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Months before the 2000 World Championships, his coach Sergey Kustov fell ill and died within a few months. Kustov had coached him for 15 years throughout his teenage years and as a world-class pool and marathon swimmer. But before he passed away, he pulled Aleksey aside and told him that he had the talent to both coach and compete at the same time. Aleksey admitted that he saw Kustov more than simply a coach, “like a father” so he took on this heavy responsibility. As a 26-year-old with new and unexpected national team coaching responsibilities, he set off to follow the wishes of his coach. He went on to both coach and compete against his teammate Yuri Kudinov in the 25 km off Waikiki Beach. Kudinov ended up winning the gold while Aleksey, almost unbelievably, won the bronze.

In an earlier interview with Denison on WOWSA Live, Aleksey explained how he really started to blossom after the age of 18.

In 1993 as a 19-year-old, his coach suggested that he try open water swimming where he represented Russia in a cross-border FINA competition from France to Switzerland, starting in Lausanne. He was surprised at the request when his coach asked him if he wanted to try swimming in a lake.

Give it a try, it is easy,” advised his coach Kustov.

So he did and, although it was not easy, he found he was also very good in the open water.

He later won the bronze medal in the 25 km race at the 1994 FINA World Championships held in Rome. He was training mega miles at the time in the pool and he continued to focus on pool swimming over the next two years before competing in the 400m and 1500m in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, a dream come true.

Aleksey remembers competing in that 1994 FINA World Championships 25 km race – only his second open water race to date. He consumed only baby food and milk, “It was very difficult.” But two years later with more racing experience at the 1998 FINA World Championships in Perth, Australia, he won both the 5 km and 25 km in warm-weather conditions of the Southern Hemisphere. He recalled with fond memories, “It was extremely cold in Moscow and then we competed in the warmth of Perth.”

In 2000 after Kustov passed away after being his coach for 15 years, Aleksey faced with almost insurmountable responsibilities as a national team coach and top swimmer. He ended up retiring as a swimmer and began coaching full-time. “It was too difficult to coach myself,” he admitted

As he shifted his immeasurable talents from the pool and open water to coaching on pool decks and shorelines, he has inspired many who wish to follow in his wake, both at the national and local level. “There are so many open water swims now throughout Russia.”

1998 FINA World Championships 25 km Results (Perth, Australia):
Gold Aleksey Akatyev, Russia 5:05:42
Silver David Meca, Spain 5:07:23
Bronze Gabriel Chaillou, Argentina 5:07:53
4. Claudio Gargaro, Italy 5:09:48
5. Yuri Kudinov, Russia 5:12:07
6. Stéphane Lecat, France 5:14:16
7. Grant Robinson, Australia 5:14:40
8. Fabrizio Pescatori, Italy 5:16:55
9. Igor Majcen, Slovenia 5:17:09
10. Nicolas Knap, France 5:22:35
11. Mark Saliba, Australia 5:27:54
12. Andre Wilde, Germany 5:31:39
13. Nathan Stooke, USA 5:32:21
14. Nace Majcen, Slovenia 5:33:52
15. Liam Weseloh, Canada 5:34:53
16. Simon Chocron 5:38:43
17. Chuck Wiley, USA 5:42:32
18. Paulo Torres 5:45:05
19. Alberto Morejon 5:46:11
20. Ryan Coom 5:48:03
21. Serghei Mariniuc 5:52:29
22. Trpimir Kutle 5:54:18
23. Robert Dinka 5:57:26
24. Gareth Fowler 6:05:11
25. Takashi Sugisawa 6:12:37
26. Ákos Győrffy 6:25:55

1998 FINA World Championships 5 km Results (Perth, Australia):
Gold Aleksey Akatyev, Russia 55:18.6
Silver Ky Hurst, Australia 55:24.9
Bronze Luca Baldini, Italy 55:37.4
4. Yevgeny Bezruchenko, Russia 55:41.4
5. David Meca, Spain 55:42.7
6. Fabio Venturini, Italy 55:54.7
7. Igor Majcen, Slovenia 55:55.9
8. John Flanagan, USA 55:57.3
9. Carl Gordon, New Zealand 56:06.6
10. Dave Bates, Australia 56:08.3
11. Serghei Mariniuc, Moldova 56:09.5
12. Sebastian Wiese, Germany 56:22.5
13. Stephane Lecat, France 56:37.0
13. Christof Wandratsch, Germany 56:37.0
15. Austin Ramirez, USA 56:51.4
16. Nace Majcen, Slovenia 57:01.1
17. Alexandre Angelotti, Brazil 57:25.7
18. Gareth Fowler, South Africa 58:32.2
19. Manuel Colmenares, Venezuela 58:33.6
20. Ryan Coom, New Zealand 58:36.0
21. Simon Chocron, Venezuela 58:50.8
22. Alberto Morejón, Cuba 1:02:12.2
23. Trpimir Kutle, Croatia 1:02:13.3
24. Takashi Sugisawa, Japan 1:02:15.5
25. Norbert Csendes, Hungary 1:02:49.5
26. Anse Henry, Antigua and Barbuda 1:39:49.2

2000 FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships 25 km Results (Honolulu, Hawaii):
Gold Yuri Kudinov, Russia 4:55:51.12
Silver David Meca, Spain 4:56:11.42
Bronze Aleksey Akatyev, Russia 4:57:03.12
4. Claudio Gargaro, Italy 4:57:18.36
5. Stéphane Gomez, France 4:57:23.34
6. Fabio Fusi, Italy 4:58:09.26
7. Gabriel Chaillou, Argentina 4:58:25.79
8. Stéphane Lecat, France 4:59:49.51
9. Mark Saliba, Australia 5:00:15.12
10. Andre Wilde, Germany 5:01:00.12
11. Liam Weseloh, Canada 5:02:16.81
12. Simon Chocron, Venezuela 5:04:22.62
13. Mark Leonard, USA 5:06:24.72
14. Miodrag Vašić, FR Yugoslavia 5:08:37.24
15. Josh Santacaterina, Australia 5:12:21.08
16. John Kenny, USA 5:18:40.44
17. Christian Hansmann, Germany 5:20:54.91
18. Pavel Srb, Czech Republic 5:31:08.54
19. Hiroki Hikida, Japan 5:36:52.23
20. Balázs Cselényi, Hungary 5:41:59.10
21. Gregory Fuentes, Ecuador 5:42:05.85
22. Georgios Tsianos, Greece 5:45:34.08
23. Dave Ling, Canada 5:48:20.89
24. Rafael Peréz, Argentina 6:02:01.80
DNF Tomi Stefanovski, North Macedonia
DNF Petar Stoychev, Bulgaria

2000 FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships 5 km Results (Honolulu, Hawaii):
Gold Yevgeny Bezruchenko, Russia 59:18.23
Silver David Meca, Spain 59:20.64
Bronze Luca Baldini, Italy 59:20.86
4. Fabio Venturini, Italy 59:22.17
5. Aleksey Akatyev, Russia 59:29.46
6. Christof Wandratsch, Germany 59:29.69
7. Ky Hurst, Australia 59:40.37
8. John Flanagan, USA 59:40.67
9. Stéphane Lecat, France 59:45.43
10. Maarten van der Weijden, Netherlands 59:50.35
11. Ben Hoffman, Germany 59:51.78
12. Petar Stoychev, Bulgaria 59:54.42
13. Steven McLeod, USA 59:54:44
14. Emmanuel Poissier, France 1:00:18.09
15. Stephen Penfold, Australia 1:00:20.60
16. Carl Gordon, New Zealand 1:00:29.65
17. Adrian Andermatt, Switzerland 1:00:31.68
18. Scott Shepherd, New Zealand 1:00:52.78
19. Pavel Srb, Czech Republic 1:01:12.16
20. Kurt Niehaus, Costa Rica 1:01:14.40
21. Gonzalo Diaz Miret, Argentina 1:01:49.68
22. Hiroki Hikida, Japan 1:01:57.50
23. Tim Cowan, Canada 1:02:42.90
24. Greg Orphanides, Great Britain 1:03:22.66
25. Miodrag Vašić, Yugoslavia 1:03:43.86
26. Matthew Kaiser, Great Britain 1:06:17.83
27. Carl Probert, Fiji 1:07:03.33
28. Ákos Győrffy, Hungary 1:07:40.51
29. Shaune Fraser, Cayman Islands 1:07:40.76
30. Adolfo Rivadeneira, Ecuador 1:08:03.40
31. Seung Gin Lee, Northern Mariana Islands 1:08:11.91

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