Profession: synchronized swimming (solo, pairs)
Olympic Games: participated in Athens and Beijing, expects to participate in London
Outstanding achievements: fourth place in the European Synchronized Swimming Championships (2010), seventh place in the European championship for pairs (2010), 15th place in the Beijing Olympics
Coaching since: 1978
Coaching Glushnov since: 2001
On a Saturday a few weeks ago, the home of Anastasia (Nastia) Glushkov was burglarized; jewelry, a television set and various electronic devices were stolen, along with valuable professional equipment. But on Sunday morning she reported, as usual, to the swimming pool in Kiryat Hayovel, Jerusalem as she has done daily, from Sunday to Friday, for almost two decades. Glushkov swims and dives, and does practice exercises and dance steps under the water, with an almost impossible display of strength, stamina and acrobatics.
Glushkov, 26, is the pioneer of synchronized swimming in Israel, and one of the best in the world. While in the water, she hears the voice of her mother, coach Tatiana Zim .
“It wasn’t easy to coach Nastia after the burglary,” says the coach. “But training is training and I’m strict. But that day I didn’t want to be too strict. I know how hard it was for her. On the other hand, she’ll be very angry if I’m not a good coach.”
Zim has been coaching Glushkov since her daughter was 6 years old. “We don’t have the same last name because I was afraid that in competitions the judges would give her lower grades if they knew that her mother was her coach. So I use my maiden name. But now everyone knows that we’re mother and daughter.”
Glushkov got married a few years ago to a high-tech worker who is a widower with a son in second grade. “I’m helping to raise this child and on the other hand I’m with my mother all the time, too,” she explains. “I don’t know whether there’s anyone in the world who knows me better.”
Zim also believes that her relationship with her daughter long ago crossed the line of usual mother-daughter ties, if there is such a thing: “She’s my best friend in the world. “
Mother and daughter agree that as a child, Nastia did not get any breaks from Tatiana.
“She wasn’t even allowed to say the word ‘mother’ at practice or to sit on my lap,” the coach says. “We came from Russia, and there’s great distance there between a coach and an athlete. So Nastia accepted it as something that was natural. She was so good and yet I criticized her all the time. When she was 18, I suddenly realized she was achieving things that I as a former athlete could only dream about. I understood I had to be gentler and more positive occasionally.”
Glushkov: “The only thing I don’t like sometimes is that she takes things so hard, so personally. Sometimes she just seems to be suffering because of something I didn’t do so well. But on the other hand I think that there’s nobody who knows me and my potential like her there’s nobody who wants me to succeed so much. That’s why it’s good she’s demanding.”
Glushkov will compete in London in her third Olympic Games, both solo and with a partner (Ina Yofe). Her mother is coaching her in both categories, but while “in a pair there’s a greater distance between us because she’s coaching two athletes, in solo I have more of a say,” explains Glushkov. Zim’s work with her daughter and Yofe comes at the expense of her work as the coach of the British synchronized swimming team a job she held until two years ago.
“After Beijing they offered me a full-time job,” she recalls. “I moved to England with my husband, who is a swimming coach, and with our young son. I did it because Nastia wasn’t sure she would go to the London Olympics and that she would have a partner, but after almost a year of work in England and great progress there, it broke my heart to see that the Israeli pair was regressing. I said: It’s my country, it’s my daughter, and I have to go back. I’m very happy that both Nastia and Ina decided to compete in London . It’s just a shame that we don’t really have the conditions here that they have in England.”
Glushkov is not sure when she will retire, but it’s likely to be shortly after the upcoming Games. Zim has already decided that after that happens, she herself will mentor coaches: “I can transmit my knowledge and experience to many other coaches. I probably won’t coach an athlete again after I stop working with my daughter.”
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