On Monday, Estonian swimmer Kregor Zirk was finally successful in qualifying for the Summer Olympics in July-August after finishing with a qualifying standard time in a swimming meet in Monaco.
Zirk has barely missed the qualifying standard on multiple occasions this year, including at the swimming European championships two weeks ago. He finally booked his ticket to the Olympics by finishing the 200 m freestyle with a time of 1:47.01.
"It was not exactly planned this way, I did not prepare for this competition specifically. I ramped up my training after the European championships and did a couple of hard sessions at home. I tried new things [in Monaco] to try competing against strong competition. I planned on going all out and it was actually a surprise that I swam so fast," Zirk told Vikerraadio.
"Since the screen with times was rather far, I first tried to understand what position I finished with. We had a competitive finish, but then I saw I was first. I tried looking at the time and then saw it was 1:47 and 01. Then I understood it was done and it was fast enough. The emotions were great!" Zirk noted.
"The biggest difference was the mental side. The preparation has been different but I feel the mental pressure was stronger for previous competitions and a lot of energy went to that. Now I started without any pressure, just trying my best and trying to win. That was the difference," the swimmer said.
Thanks to fulfilling the A-standard for 200 m freestyle, Zirk can also start in other Olympic swimming disciplines. "If you have fulfilled the A-standard in one discipline, you can start with your B-standard. 400 m freestyle and 200 m butterfly are likely disciplines I will participate in," Zirk concluded.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste