16-year-old Eneli Jefimova returned to Estonia on Monday after winning gold in the women's 100m breaststroke at the European Short Course Swimming Championships in Romania last week. Jefimova will compete in the Estonian Championships just before Christmas, before taking a short break ahead of her preparations for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Last Wednesday, Eneli Jefimova made history when she took Estonia's first ever gold medal in the European Short Course Swimming Championships. Jefimova swam the 100m breaststroke in 1 minute 3.21 seconds, the third best time ever swum by a European.
"It was a fairly normal evening, I was in a very good mood. I danced, sang and just went to the final. I was a bit nervous, but I calmed down as soon as I realized that nothing new was waiting for me there. I've swum before and I can still swim," Jefimova told ERR after arriving back at Tallinn Airport on Monday
"When I finished and saw that I was the European champion, I had a tsunami of emotions. I started crying, I cried during the interview, I cried hugging Henry [coach Henry Hein], then I called my mother and we cried together: so many emotions!"
Two days later, Jefimova had to settle for seventh place in the final of the 200m breaststroke. However, she still managed to finish the championships strongly, taking silver in the 50m breaststroke.
"I had to calm down a bit [after the gold medal]. The next day, the 200m breaststroke was my worst at the European Championships. I'm still really happy that I made the final. I'd never qualified in the 200m before, so that was a big plus for me," said Jefimova.
Jefimova will miss out on the upcoming World Aquatics Championships, which take place in Doha, Qatar from February 2 – 18, because the timing of the competition does not fit with her training schedule.
Before Christmas, however, she will compete in the Estonian National Championships.
"At the moment, I'm not going to do much preparation for the Estonian Championships because I won't even be swimming the main event there, only the side events, butterfly and crawl. I'm taking it easy, I'm still going to the gym and trying to get my school stuff in order," Jefimova said.
"I'm taking a break for the New Year, and then in January we'll start a new, hard training cycle to prepare for the Olympics. The World Championships are at a very inconvenient time. I don't have time to prepare physically and even if I did, I'd miss two weeks of training," she added.
Editor: Michael Cole