Swiss swimming is getting better and better. Swiss Aquatics achieved the best record in its history at the European Long Swimming Championships in Rome, with four medals including a gold medal from Lisa Mamié (200m breaststroke) and despite the absence of her leader Jérémy Desplanches. And that assessment could have been even more flattering.
Expectations were high in the Swiss camp at the Foro Italico, the scene of the main goal of the season for the federation. The Olympic bronze medals won by Jérémy Desplanches and Noè Ponti in Tokyo last year have given added confidence to a team that hasn’t lacked for him.
“We had the potential to win nine or even ten medals by being very optimistic,” admits Markus Buck, Head of Competitive Sports at Swiss Aquatics. Only then, after three days and two frustrating fourth places, was the first podium still waiting.
Mityukov, the unlucky one
Roman Mityukov was unlucky as a surprise bronze medalist in the 200m backstroke in Budapest in May 2021. He first had to digest a 4th place finish he had earned in the ambitious 4 x 200m freestyle relay before ending in the same thankless position in the 200m backstroke after setting a new Swiss record to advance to the semifinals to win.
However, this annoying double failure brought additional resentment within the Swiss delegation. “The fact that the squadron members were so upset speaks volumes about the improvement in the level of the entire team. It really could have been done better. But anger is also a stimulant,” emphasizes Markus Buck.
A reaction from the champions
The time when we were happy about participating in a final is definitely over. And the reaction to that false start was devastating. Noè Ponti, whose preparation was interrupted by a Covid-19 infection, was able to sublimate himself in the 100m butterfly to adorn himself with silver on the third day and unlock the counter.
And the next day events followed one another. Like his roommate from Ticino, Antonio Djakovic won silver, only beaten by child prodigy David Popovici in the 200m freestyle. Almost ten minutes later, Lisa Mamié became the second Swiss after Flavia Rigamonti to become European Champion.
The 19-year-old from Thurgau did it again on Wednesday and won a second silver medal in the 400 m freestyle. But this last day was also marked by a new 4th place for Roman Mityukov (over 100m backstroke) and a 4th place for a Jérémy Desplanches whose distress was immense.
Among the top 10 nations
“If we apply the rule of experience that it takes three ways to get a medal, we’re doing very well with our four medals,” recalls Markus Buck with satisfaction, who is not choosy despite the few disappointments in Rome.
“In recent years we have gradually moved closer to the European and even the world elite and we are definitely among them,” he concludes, as Switzerland finished 9th in the medals table and 10th in the points ranking, all of them took into account the results obtained.
The future before them
And the best is yet to come. Antonio Djakovic is only 19 years old, Noè Ponti 21, Roman Mityukov 22 and Lisa Mamié 23. There is still a lot of room for improvement. The Geneva native is also driven by an immense will to win when it comes to resuming training after a well-deserved vacation.
And ‘street captain’ Jérémy Desplanches (28) will be able to bounce back, he who had won four consecutive medals in the 200m individual medley before failing at both the Budapest World Championships and these European Championships. “I’ll get up very quickly,” promises the man from Geneva, who is already looking at the Fukuoka 2023 Worlds.
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