World Masters Spotlight: Rick Colella & Sergey Geybel

(L-R): Rick Colella, USA and Sergey Geybel, Russia

2017 Top 12 World Masters Swimmers of the Year

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Swimming World Magazine has been recognizing the Top 12 World Masters Swimmers of the Year for the last 14 years. Running from April 2nd through April 7th the staff at Swimming World will be shining a spotlight on the accomplishments of our Top 12 World Masters Swimmers of the Year.

Rick Colella, USA (65-69)

Rick Colella, a 1972 Olympian and 1976 Olympic bronze medalist, never set out to break Masters world records. But he also never hung up his goggles.

Colella soon realized that running hurt too much and canoeing and nordic skiing were very much dependent on Seattle’s oft inclement weather, so swimming became his go-to form of fitness. The early morning workouts didn’t get in the way of life, and Masters swimming provided him with the challenge and camaraderie he sought. In 2008, Colella found time to enter the competitive Masters circuit and quickly started tearing apart record boards.

Colella trains six days per week for a little more than an hour per practice. He has had an on-deck coach since 2010, which has helped his neglected stroke technicalities immensely.

“We usually have four to five people in a lane, sometimes six or seven, so we can’t do much long distance training, which is fine with me!” Colella said. His team’s training has evolved in the past few years, from having race-pace sprint sets once per week, to integrating race pace into workouts three to four days per week (or more). Colella attributes his maintained speed to the additional sprint work, and his times back up this claim.

In short course meters, Colella broke six world records: the 100-200 free (58.19, 2:07.56), 50-100 breast (32.50, 1:13.16) and 100-200 IM (1:05.43, 2:22.60). A 200 breast specialist in his Olympic days, Colella has definitely located his fast-twitch muscle fibers.

But that’s not to say the man doesn’t still have endurance. In long course, Colella rewrote records in the 200-400 free (2:09.39, 4:37.70), 100 breast (1:14.77), 100 y (1:05.83) and 400 IM (5:13.36).

“Since I was about 8, I’ve been swimming because I find it fun, I want to stay fit, and I have a great group of friends in swimming,” Colella said. “I still go for the fun, fitness and friends. And, to add to that, even after all these years, there’s always something new to learn!”

Sergey Geybel, RUS (35-39)

Sergey Geybel, 36, is an under-the-radar name because he is not far removed from his professional swimming career.

Geybel began swimming at the age of 6. He became one of Russia’s top swimmers in his teenage years but took up coaching when his career seemed to have plateaued. He was drafted into the army—Russia’s special forces. Geybel was able to train and sometimes even compete during his time in the service.

After fulfilling his army obligation, Geybel began training with storied coach Alexander Ilyin and saw tremendous improvements in the pool. At the 2008 World Short Course Championships in Manchester, Geybel joined forces with Stanislav Donets, Evgeny Korotyshkin and Alexander Sukhorukov in Russia’s 4×100 medley relay. The squad ended up winning gold and busting the world record (3:24.29). A year later, Danila Izotov replaced Sukhorukov on the freestyle leg, and Russia lowered the mark to 3:19.16, which stands today.

At both the 2008 and 2011 European Championships, Geybel swam the breaststroke leg of Russia’s 4×50 medley relays, garnering a silver medal from each championship.

In 2013, Geybel began his Masters swimming career as a member of Sibmasters Sport Club.

“I really hit my stride and had good results (broke world and European Masters records),” Geybel said. “It was so exciting—like in youth, emotions overwhelmed me. And I wanted to participate in these competitions more often.”

Geybel swims daily, averaging 4,000 meters, and does strength training four times each week.

This past season, Geybel set two short course meters world Masters records in the 50 and 100 breaststrokes (27.32, 1:00.61).

“When you are a professional athlete, you worry about a lot of things: your country’s honor, results, your duty to your country, our team placing,” Geybel said. “But in Masters competitions, that’s quite another matter. It’s a moment to myself. It’s communication with sports enthusiasts, acquaintance with new countries and cultures. This is an opportunity to make friends around the world, and it’s a more relaxing atmosphere…and medals are a pleasant bonus.”


1 comment

  1. Russell Denny

    65-59. That’s an unusual age group.