Andrei Minakov Drops Out of International Swimming League to Save Eligibility for NCAA

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Andrei Minakov is withdrawing from the International Swimming League. Photo Courtesy: FINA / Budapest 2019

Russia’s Andrei Minakov confirmed to Swimming World on Saturday that he is pulling out of the International Swimming League (ISL) in order to save his amateur status to be able to compete at the NCAA level in the future. Minakov was set to swim for the Energy Standard team alongside Olympic and World Champions Chad Le ClosAnton Chupkov and Florent Manaudou.

But with the ISL’s professional environment, Minakov wanted to keep his amateur status, so he elected to drop out of the league to be able to swim at NCAAs one day.

“First of all, I would like to thank Energy Standard for this marvelous opportunity,” Andrei Minakov told Swimming World. “And good luck to the team during the meets! I cheer for you guys! 

“This decision was made by several reasons, but the main for them is that I want to save eligibility for my future NCAA career. As I always say, life isn’t just about swimming.

“I hope my withdraw won’t affect the team’s success.”

But Minakov won’t be swimming in the NCAA this year since he will be taking a gap year to train for the Olympics, saying he intends to enroll in an American university after the Olympic Games. This isn’t too much of a surprise since he has been training in California off and on the last couple years with the Terrapins Swim Team in Concord.

“I made the decision to take a gap year during spring time,” Minakov said. “Moreover, my family and coaches helped me out with this difficult situation.”

Minakov was living in California with friends so he could train at Terrapins in 2018, but was doing most of his training in Russia this past year.

“Sometimes we went to camps like Armenia or to national base in Moscow. And the next year, pre-Olympic year will be the same I think. Nevertheless, I hope there will be a chance to spend at least a month in the United States for example.”

Andrei Minakov’s Rise to the World’s Elite

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Minakov (right) with Chad Le Clos at the World Championships. Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Andrei Minakov has enjoyed a nice last 12 months in his swimming career. He won six gold medals at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games last fall, moving up to sixth in the world rankings in the 100 fly at just 16 years old. In that 100 fly race, he had the fastest time of any Russian in 2018 and also took down Hungary’s Kristof Milak, who won the silver medal in the 100 fly at the World Championships the summer before in 2017. Minakov followed that up with three gold medals at the European Juniors in early July, but he was saving himself for the big show at the World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea.

In Korea, Minakov won the silver medal in the 100 fly with a 50.83, moving up to 14th all-time. It was something he definitely did not see coming.

“I don’t like to expect and predict,” Minakov said. “In my opinion it’s better to motivate yourself to be on the podium. I always think only about how I work hard through all distance.”

Minakov also swam the butterfly leg on Russia’s bronze medal winning medley relay team with a 50.54 split and swam on the prelims team of the 4×100 free, which won the silver medal.

Minakov was not done. He continued on to swim at the World Junior Championships in Budapest a month later and won three gold medals and was named swimmer of the meet by FINA.

Minakov’s exit from the ISL is a blow to the Energy Standard team, but he will be a huge addition to any NCAA team next year.

2 comments

  1. HJ Oxie

    Smart move, guessing he’ll end up at USC.

  2. avatar
    Fanminakov

    🙂 your guess is not right, there are other Universities as well.