Evgeny Korotyshkin (30 April, 1983) is a Russian butterfly swimmer who consistently challenges for top honours at the 50m and 100m distances.
The son of two swimmers, Yevgeny was destined for the competitive pool, and started lessons in Moscow at the age of four. His first podium finish on the international stage came in 2001 as part of the Russian 4x100m freestyle relay team at the European Junior championships in Malta. A year later at the European Short Course Championships in Riesa, Germany, he made the final of the 100m fly, finishing fifth.
Evgeny started appearing on senior international podiums in 2003, as he won 50m fly silver and bronze medals and two 100m fly bronze medals at the Mare Nostrum series of meets in Barcelona, Monte Carlo, and Cannes. The following month, he leapt into international prominence with a bronze medal in the 50m butterfly at the World Championships in Barcelona, and also made the final of the 100m butterfly, finishing eighth. Evgeny also swam in the heat of the 4x100m medley relay, with the Russian team going on to win the silver medal.
Over the next few years Evgeny rose to the top of the Russian butterfly sprint rankings, consistently winning medals at the Mare Nostrum and FINA World Cup series, making the finals of the European and World SC Championships (2004, 2006), the World LC Championships (2005), and snagging four silver medals at the European SC Championships in 2005 (100m fly) and 2007 (50m, 100m fly, 4x50m medley relay).
2008 marked a return to the podium at some of the world’s major events, starting in March at the European Championships in Eindhoven, where he won his first European titles in the 100m butterfly and 4x100m medley relay. His individual gold equaled the championship record (51.89) while the relay team set a new European mark of 3:34.25. Three weeks later at the World SC Championships in Manchester, he claimed the 50m butterfly bronze, and then swam the butterfly leg in the Russian team’s world record victory in the 4x100m medley relay (3:24.29). At the Beijing Olympics, he failed to progress beyond the 100m butterfly heats, but was part of the Russian team’s European record-setting swim (3:31.92) in the final of the 4x100m medley relay, where they finished fourth. At the year-ends’ European SC Championships in Rijeka, he won a bronze medal in the 4x50m medley relay, and had fourth-place finishes in the 50m and 100m butterfly.
Evgeny had a disappointing 2009 World Championships in Rome, failing to make the finals of either the 50m or 100m butterfly events, despite setting Russian national records in both. He was also part of the sixth-placed Russian 4x100m medley relay team, which also set a new Russian record in their heat. However, he more than made up for it later in the year by writing his name into the world record books no less than five times. In November at the Moscow and Berlin legs of the FINA-Arena World Cup series, he set new 100m fly world SC marks of 48.99 and 48.48, and then in December at Istanbul’s European SC Championships he and his teammates broke the 4x50m medley relay record twice in one day with times of 1:32.08 and 1:31.80. In Istanbul he also broke the 100m butterfly championship record with a time of 48.93, and picked up the 50m fly bronze medal. Ten days later at the Vladimir Salnikov Swimming Cup in Moscow, the Russian 4x100m medley relay team did it again with a new world mark of 3:19.16.
2010 saw Evgeny successfully defend his 100m butterfly title at the European Championships in Budapest, this time setting a new championship record of 51.73. He also won a silver medal with the Russian 4x100m medley relay team, and a 50m butterfly bronze. However, he reserved the year’s top performance for the World SC Championships in Dubai, where he won his first individual world title in the 100m butterfly with a time of 50.23.
Evgeny improved on his previous World Championships showing in Shanghai in 2011 by making the final of the 100m butterfly, finishing sixth, before winning gold medals in the same event at the Moscow and Berlin legs of the FINA-Arena World Cup series in October, and the Dutch Open in December. The year ended with two silver medals at the European SC Championships in Szczecin in 100m butterfly and 4x50m medley relay.
London 2012 proved to be third time lucky for Evgeny at the Olympics, as he claimed a joint silver medal in a thrilling 100m butterfly final, tying for second with South Africa’s Chad le Clos in a time of 51.44. At November’s European SC Championships in Chartres, he won the 100m butterfly gold, and a silver medal with the Russian 4x50m medley relay team.
With two butterfly swimmers as parents – one of whom, mother Lyudmila, competed at the European Championships and is a national Russian coach – it’s not surprising that Evgeny’s future lay not just in swimming, but in butterfly. And so it went, with Lyudmila becoming his first coach after he took to the pool at four years old.
Growing up in the 1990s in Russia was difficult, the economic situation was dire, and Evgeny’s family struggled. At one point they sold books, comics and handmade toys in the Moscow metro (underground) to help make ends meet, buying the goods at retail stores and marking them up to sell them. It left a mark on Evgeny, and, as he says, “it was one of the biggest lessons of my life”.
Despite the family focus on swimming, as a 13-year-old Evgeny split his time between the pool and karate. However, it wasn’t always easy, and one day he was finally forced into choosing one or the other. On that occasion he had competitions in both, and so after his karate match he charged down to the pool in his kimono, late for his swim, with everyone already on their starting blocks at the other end of the pool. After asking them to wait for him, he ran toward the starting end, but slipped on the way, falling on to his back in his white kimono. Despite seeing stars and with his head ringing, he disrobed and got on to the block just as the starter gave his orders. After the race, he finally realized he had to choose one or the other.
Evgeny learned another great life lesson from his mother, who as a competitive swimmer was threatened with expulsion from her team if she didn’t adopt a doping regimen. “Better that I give birth to a healthy kid who can win that title,” she thought to herself, and did not participate in any doping during her career. Later she told Evgeny that her dream came true, when he won his first European title.
A born-and-bred Muscovite, Evgeny did all his schooling in his home town, studying German at high school, Physical Culture, Sports and Tourism at the local State University, and management at the Academy of Labor and Social Relations. But in 2008 he left his homeland to further his swimming career with Andrea di Nino and his ADN Swim Project in Italy. He credits his Olympic medal to this move and to Di Nino in particular, who keeps training interesting during the four-year Olympic cycle. Of his coach he had this to say: “He is a bad driver, but a very good coach and sports manager. I trust him 100%.”
Aside from his Olympic medal, the high point of his career was his first world record with the Russian 4x100m medley relay team in Manchester in 2008. His reflection on the triumph was typically philosophical. “I came to the realization that our lives are too short, and I understood that to you can’t reach your goals with just 75-80% effort. Either you give 100% or you shouldn’t do it at all.” Evgeny has found that becoming a world-class top competitive swimmer has made his life “faster”, and that he gets asked advice and for his opinion a lot more often than previously.
If he wasn’t a swimmer, Evgeny thinks he’d be a cosmonaut, because “I like silence,” he says with a chuckle. Swimming, however, has become such a part of his life that he’d like to open a swimming school when he retires from his competitive career.
Away from the pool, he can’t live without sweets (candy), and loves extreme sports – skydiving and snowboarding, for example – and would also like to do some “freeriding” (skiing or snowboarding on the virgin snow). He would also like to learn to fly a plane or a helicopter, and – tongue in cheek – to juggle chainsaws and “clean my room.”
For music he likes rock, rap and “singing in the shower”, with Nickelback one of his favourite groups, while his movie tastes tend towards comedy and science fiction, with Nicolas Cage and Jessica Alba two of his favourite actors. When it comes to reading, he enjoys horror, particularly the books of Stephen King, and if he were to single out his favourite meal, it would be chicken and fried potatoes.
Adventure, philosophy, education, and an ever-present sense of humour – one could never accuse Evgeny Korotyshkin of being a one-dimensional person.