A structural lack of pleasure drove swimmer Kira Toussaint from Amsterdam’s familiar Sloterparkbad to American Knoxville. In the land of unlimited possibilities, the backstroke specialist has fully blossomed in the span of a few months. “I thought: If I’ve wanted to do this for years, then I should enjoy it.”
There is no hotel, spring, or other luxury in the “American Dream” of Tucson. The 28-year-old Dutchman has been sleeping on the floor at a friend’s house since May. She borrowed a mattress from her coach Matt Creditch, who she trained under between 2015 and 2017 when she was a freshman at the University of Tennessee.
Longing for a new motivation, Toussaint was thrilled to find an American roof over her head ever. Her departure from Amsterdam – she wanted something new after five years under coach Marc Faber – was a leap of faith, but it turned out to be a magnet.
A few months were already enough for Toussaint to regain all the lost swimming pleasure. The daughter of Olympic swimming champion Jolanda De Rover is training in a much larger group with more backstroke specialists. Plus, the American training culture suits her well.
“When I have an idea in America to try something, like a slightly different technique in back crawl, it immediately says: let’s do it‘, says Toussaint in a conversation with NU.nl, looking forward to the European Long Track Championships starting Thursday in Rome.
“That’s a big difference with Holland. An expert came from New Zealand recently who knew a lot about how best to recover after training. It was very helpful, so of course I directed him with questions. I like it here. And I thought: If I’ve been wanting to do this for years, I must have fun with it “.
Back muscle specialist Kira Toussaint prepares to host the 2024 Olympics in America.
“Excellent sport is a very bad investment”
America’s early “back crawl” months went so well that Toussaint recently decided to continue training in the United States until the 2024 Olympics. In between, she returns to the Netherlands when major tournaments are decided, such as this month’s European Championships.
However, moving to the United States is still a gamble from a sporting point of view, as Toussaint also knows. The European 50m backstroke champion saw her breakthrough under Faber. She won six individual European titles, broke the now-improved world record in the 50m backstroke (short track) in 2020 and swam in her first Olympic final in Tokyo last summer.
There are no guarantees that the American adventure will help it achieve greater success. For now, Toussaint can only build on the feeling that things are going well. The next period will show whether the results support this sentiment.
“I always say: Top sport is a very bad investment. We invest a lot through training, but you never know if it will pay off. However, I am convinced that this is the right move. I can say that I am joint VS has already become a better swimmer. We just have to wait and see,” says Toussaint.
Kyra Toussaint has six European Championship singles titles to her name.
Toussaint admits that the situation has changed
Eyes have recently become more focused on Toussaint. Because of the swimming pension of the figureheads Ranomy Kromovedjojo and Fimki Heemskerk, native Amstelvinci (along with Arno Kamenga) became the most important face of the Dutch swimming team. Toussaint’s situation has changed and the humble swimmer has yet to get used to.
“I once saw an article in which I was called the reigning Dutch swimmer. It doesn’t mean that I necessarily have stress because of this, but it takes some getting used to. On the other hand: if you look at the World Cup, then I am the only Dutchman who has ever swam in Final with an Olympic number.
At the World Long Course Championships in June, Toussaint did not have high expectations of himself due to the change in the training environment. However, she reached the finals of the World Cup twice in the Hungarian capital Budapest. At the European Championships, she hopes to reap the rewards of her transformation for the first time.
“I feel some extra pressure because I told myself I wanted to peak at the European Championships,” Toussaint admits. “Of course I really want to defend my title at 50 back and win a medal on the 100 back. In addition, we have a good chance to win the 4x100m with the mixed relay team. He is very busy with many top players. Championships in a short time, But it’s cool. It’s what I live for.”
European Individual Championship program Kyra Toussaint
- August 13: 50pm Noon (Series and Semi-Finals)
- August 14: 50pm Noon (Final)
- August 15: 100m back (series and semi-finals)
- August 16: 100pm noon (final)
The European Championships long track series starts every day at 9.00. The evening program begins with the semi-finals and final at 6 pm.
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