MOSCOW, December 30. RUSSIAN swimming unveiled a new look for 2002, as teenagers Stanislava Komarova and Yuri Prilukov were named Russia's female and male Swimmers of the Year.
Komarova, 16, was a surprise double winner at the European Junior Championships in Linz, Austria, winning the 50 meter (29.34) and 200m backstroke (2;11.56). She also placed second in the 100 meter dorsal event (1:02.35).
Based on her superb performance in Austria, Komarova was named to the Russian team competing at the European Long Course Championships in Berlin one month later. There she showed she had more surprises up her sleve, improving on her previous bests and vaulting into the top ranks of the world's backstrokers.
The 16 year-old won the 100m backstroke in 1:01.40, edging Germany's Sandra Volker at 1:01.42. She came back to strike gold again, winning the 200m back in a national record 2:09.49 and beating former Russian (now Spanish) national champion, Nina Zhivanevskaya, 2;10.29 in the process. At year's end, Komarova ranked sixth in the world in the 100 meters and second in the 200 meters, trailing only the USA's Natalie Coughlin.
Prilukov established himself as a contender for a medal at the 2003 World Championships with his eye-opening performances this year in the metric mile.
The 18 year-old was a triple winner at the Euro Junior Champs, taking the 200m free (1:50.26), 400m (3:53.59) and 1500m (15:14.85). But that was just a warm-up.
Competing at the European Championships a month later, he won the 1500 meters in 15:03.88, which wound up ranking him third in the world for 2002.
At the European Short Course Champs in Riesa, Germany, earlier this month, Prilukov set a European short course record in the 1500 meters with his 14:35.06, returning the record to Mother Russia after a two-year absence. Prilukov's time bettered the continental standard of 14:36.93 by Italy's Massi Rosolino at the 2000 Short Course Champs in Valencia. Before that, Russia's Vladimir Salnikov had held the record for 18 years.
Showing improved speed, Prilukov also captured the silver medal in the 400 meters in Riesa, clocking 3:41.90.