Swimming record holder Zapozhnik says, I got sick for two months, and it was hard for me to come back. He also knows computer science

The finalist of the last European Swimming Championships, Matug Zapojnik, accepted an invitation to Radiožurnál Sport. On the Na sítí programme, hosted by Andrea Sestini Hlaváčková, they discussed not only why Matěj chose swimming as a sport, but also how two-phase training in the pool could be combined with a demanding study of computer science.


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Mate Zabozhnik | Source: Profimedia

The last highlight of your season was the European Championship in Rome, where you set a record and finished 11th. How satisfied are you with the performance?
At the beginning of the season I expected a little better results, then the season became more complicated and I tried to prepare as best I could for the European Championship, and I succeeded. I am definitely satisfied.

Listen to the full interview with swimmer Matěj Zábojník on Na síti

What made the journey more complicated?
In mid-April, I fell seriously ill and stopped training for two months. Going back wasn’t easy at all.

This is probably a big problem in aerobic sports like swimming, right?
A couple of months off on your own isn’t that bad, but when you’ve been on antibiotics for a month and a half, it pisses you off. I couldn’t manage to come back at first, it was hard, and I couldn’t breathe at all while swimming. It was a struggle.

What was the biggest success – the 200m final or personal best in the 100m?
It will definitely be the final because I am a 200m specialist. However, the single and Czech record in the 100 is always happy and indicates a good level.

Andrea Sestini Hlavakova

On the web

Andrea Sestini Hlavakova, a former tennis player, 2012 London Olympic silver medalist and two-time double Grand Slam champion, asks her guest. Listen every Thursday from 10 am on Radiožurnál Sport or on the iROZHLAS server.

Did you feel well prepared before you left for Rome?
Yes, I believed myself. But when I got to Rome, it wasn’t very popular after that trip, and I was very worried that it wouldn’t be the same. I finally settled down and it was fine.

What was different along the way?
I have a big problem installing the plane. It was a long ride, a varied crossing to the hotel, and I was tired, didn’t sleep well and it wasn’t quite the same in the water.

Kristina Horska also did well in Rome, finishing seventh. Was there something positive for you Czechs, that both were successful?
It’s hard to say, but there is a really great swimming pool in Rome. I’ve never been to a nicer pool, it was such a great atmosphere because the terraces were finally full. It’s not football, but there were about seven thousand people, which is really enough for swimming. Maybe the atmosphere was great and the fact that we prepared so well.

You had your first final in a 50m pool. Last year in Kazan I was also in the final, but that was 25. What are the differences?
The fiftieth is more famous because she swam in the Olympics. All achievements in the 1950s carry more weight for most swimmers.

matte zabozhnik

A Czech swimmer born in Zlin holds the national record in the 200m breaststroke.

Which ones do you train in?
In Brno, in the pool behind Lužánky, I spend most of my time there, and there are fifty. People in Prague have the worst, the fifties here, but there’s a fight with the railways and the public, so for the fifties, I have better options. But it is necessary to take turns, because at the age of 25 you also have to train and sometimes I have trouble finding one.

I heard there is also a difference in water temperature when swimming in an outdoor pool, is that true?
Weather plays an influence. In Rome it was alternating, one day it rained, then it was hot, and it was difficult to prepare for the race so as not to catch a cold. I was too warm, which isn’t ideal either. It can rain, the sun shines a lot.

This is also seen underwater?
I swim with my chest, so I always breathe and keep my head above the water. I can’t feel the sun or the rain, but that might not be good for someone.

In what weather is the open pool race interrupted?
It’s probably a storm, when it starts to thunder or lightning, the races are interrupted. Racing is usually done in the rain, but it is not allowed in thunderstorms.

You said there are up to seven thousand fans in Rome. How was swimming behind these backgrounds?
It was completely different, especially in the beginning, it was a real experience. In the semi-finals and final I was lucky enough to swim with the local competitors and when the Italian came in, it was a riot. I got goosebumps, this was the first time I felt it.

How were the Italian fans of the other swimmers?
Cheer up everyone. No rider entered the race and was not given a standing ovation. There was a difference, of course, but they supported everyone.

24 years later, last year you broke the record for your compatriot from Zlin, Daniel Malik. He was fifth in the 2000 Olympics when I was born. how do you feel about it
for clarification. I already hit him, but a colleague from the department did it a month before me, so he broke the old record. I got over it in a month. It was a great feeling because it was another swimming goal and when I broke the first in the 200 breaststroke I was so happy.

Did you grow up in Malik’s footsteps, if you were from the same city?
I wouldn’t say that. When I was young, I was at Zlín Swimming Club, but then I split into two teams and joined the new club. So we were in different clubs, so we don’t have a common experience. We know each other, we say hi, but there’s no major connection.

Why breast discipline?
I may have loved him more. I started with backstroke and breaststroke, which was the most fun for me, but it was also the best for me when I was little.

Is there a physical prerequisite that the coach appreciates?
You could probably infer from the shape that a person would be more into sprints or longer distances, but I don’t think it would be an identifiable style based on the shape.

Swimmers are said to be able to “only” swim. Why is it like this?
It probably is, because some can’t even catch a balloon or throw something. That’s not my case, I’ve always done more sports and been good at some of them. But there will definitely be something.

“Everyone was just looking at me, amazing.” Swimmer Horska enjoyed her first interstellar debut

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Which sports?
I started with football, and I didn’t enjoy it that much. Then I played floorball, basketball, some triathlon, and rode a bike. I’ve tried quite a few things, but I enjoyed swimming the most.

When did it become a specialty that it is only swimming?
When I went to about 4th grade in elementary school, I went to a sports school to take a swimming class. At the time, I was just concentrating on swimming, but I did triathlons and other things. But in high school, I only focused on swimming.

Why swim is of all sports. Was it because you were good at it?
I dare say because I was good at it.

What does your typical training day look like?
There is a big difference between how I got it in Zlín in high school and now when I’m at university in Brno. It was a little easier in Zlín, there weren’t many stages. We swim every day, then swim in something dry, maybe at the gym, or yoga. very dry. In Brno there is already twice a day training in the water and exercises. It is more demanding training, but of course it is needed.

When you mention the change in training, how much has your swimming style changed in recent years?
You can’t really see it by crawling and marking. These are not drastic changes, but a couple of years ago, the style of breaststroke has changed, when it comes to the timing of the kick and pull of the dolphin. Making the breast move faster, even if it is a small change. However, I don’t think otherwise that any fundamental change will occur.

Does the swimmer make this change, or how does it happen?
There was a problem in breaststroke as the swimmers were abusing the kicks of the dolphins after the start. I don’t even know why this happens, but the rules have been changed, possibly to prevent cheating.

What about swimwear? Can you imagine jumping into the pool in some regular pools?
I can imagine, I swam one race in my training swimsuit, but you can feel it in the water.

How often do you change your swimwear?
Swimwear must be approved by the Swimming Association so that we do not use anything prohibited. I have new races every year, and for the bigger and more important races I run new and unused races.

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In 2024, you will be under 24 years old, perhaps the ideal age for a swimmer. Is it a big dream for you to reach the Olympics in Paris?
naturally. It is every athlete’s dream. It’s a long-term goal, but it’s very close. Qualification actually starts in March next year, so I’m really focused on that.

So it does not matter how you do until March?
There is a rehabilitation period of about a year. Competitions are selected and times are counted. It doesn’t matter where I swim, but it must be at approved races and during the nomination period.

What results should you get from March?
I have to do my personal best with seven tenths for the two hundred meters, which is the Olympic limit and my goal. I have already chosen some of the races I will go to.

Where will it be?
In the international match in Stockholm, I spent two consecutive years and did well. It will be in April and this will be my first attempt at swimming to the limit.

What made you do a good job there?
I have a pool there. It’s fast, well lit, not dark and I could race better there. It just fits me there

You mainly started promoting yourself last year, where did the tipping point come from?
Ironically, the Covid season helped me, because there was no competition, only training. I had time to get better, was not affected by the bad results in the races and at the end of 2020 I was in the races and I smashed my best on a personal level. Then I thought it was going in the right direction and I had something to show. I swam in the confines of the European Championship in April 2021 and that’s what pushed me up. Since then, I enjoy training more, improving myself, and I think I will be able to get to the Olympics.

You train in Brno, but wouldn’t Prague be better prepared?
It depends. When I went to Brno, I made a decision because of the school. I didn’t know what swimming would be like for me in university, so I decided to go to Brno, where I study computer science at Masaryk University. We sat down with the coach and I also have a fairly good group there.

How difficult is it to combine professional sports with computer science studies?
it is very difficult. I thought I could handle it, but I’m not an excellent student collecting A’s and B’s. I’m like a student sailing through school and trying to finish it. It is not glory.

Why does computer science come to mind?
I always loved computers when I was younger, so I’ve been playing on them. I enjoyed it so I thought I’d give it a try and see. In the end, I just got stuck there and hope to finish it successfully.

What is your vision, what would you like to do after your career?
I don’t know yet, of course it’s related to computer science, but I don’t know what it is exactly.

Andrea Sestini HlavakovaAnd the the silent acting

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