Official website of 16th FINA World Masters Championships 2015 in Kazan

Masters athlete Adolf Skotarenko: Life goes on

19.08.2015, 10:00 Sport
The 16th FINA World Masters Championships came to their logical end. The Kazan 2015 OC’s Press Office continues to share its interesting stories and interviews with athletes and today you will learn about 75-year-old swimmer Adolf Skotarenko.

The wonder is out there. The fans of the 16th FINA World Masters Championships witnessed that with their own eyes. Masters athletes are worth admiring for what they do at their age. Nonetheless, for many people swimming is not the only occupation in life, some manage to combine several activities concurrently. Adolf Skotarenko can be considered a legend: at the age of 75 he does not only go swimming and earn medals, but carries on his career which is a caricature artist. He is a member of the Moscow Union of Artists, member of the Union of Journalists of Russia, author of over 2,500 pictures, published in famous Soviet and Russian periodical literature (Crocodile, Culture and Sport, Bud Zdorov ('Be Healthy'), Literaturnaya Gazeta ('Literature Newspaper'), Nezavisimaya Gazeta ('Independent Newspaper)', 60 Let – Ne Vozrast ('60 is Not an Age') and others). He has designed dozens of books and founded the Junior Caricature Artist School. However, his active approach to life is required for his most responsible, as he puts himself, job, being a section leader of an apartment building he lives in.

– Masters athletes are a role model for youngsters. You look great and show brilliant swimming results. What do you do to achieve them and stay young and healthy?

– I have been publishing my works in the 60 Let – Ne Vozrast ('60 is Not an Age') journal for 15 years. What is it about? There are many old people, especially men, who look untidy and here I do not mean if their clothes are cheap or expensive. It is not right. Life goes on, it does not stop at one point. You must take care of yourself. You can always look your age or even younger, for that reason you should keep fit, do sport, have tidy clothes on, take care of your looks. You may go to the woods like Robinson, but still every detail of his outfit was functional, goatskin protecting from rain and saving from heat. But you may choose to take care of yourself. People you see at the Championships are organised and competent, and keep to a healthy lifestyle. As for me, I swam seven distances: I took silver in the men’s individual 800m and 50m freestyle events and gold in two relays defending the Moscow Neptun Club. I’m 75. Do I look like an old man?

– We could see many different athletes in the competitions. What can you say about them?

– There are participants for who swimming is not a sport, but physical exercises; people who have done little sport; top class Masters; ‘competitive athletes’ whose non-professionalism is obvious in all aspects, including manners and talks; champions, Masters of Sport. Master is a person whose job is highly scored. When I was young, I had a chance to work at a metallurgy plant. My father was its employee and could not come to work untidy. This is the culture of a master. The same goes for competitions.

– The athletes keep competing at the Masters tournament for many years now. Why is it so in your opinion?

– Athletes from many countries take part in the Championships. For some of them it is a sort of entertainment, for the others it is nothing but a medal winning process. The latter ones seem to be kind of obsessed with the sport, the competitions because once they’ve already been competing and claiming these very medals and now they want to go through the same feelings once again, competing against the same athletes. It gives them sort of tremendous adrenaline.

– What about the physical exercises at your age? What is the best amount of trainings for elderly people?

– As for the trainings, you know, I’ve been acquainted with a person, Academician Amosov, I’ve been working with him for a while. He was a great surgeon, performed thousands of surgeries, went through the World War the Second and died when he was 93 years old. All his life he wanted to prolong his youth by means of constant hard physical exercises. Some time later he confessed about himself being mistaken. He concluded that elderly people should have more time for a recovery after physical exercises than the youngsters.

– Apart from being an experienced swimmer, you are also a famous artist. What caught your interest in the pictorial caricature?

– First I studied at the Physical University of Tbilisi, then I continued my studies at the Moscow University. Back then I got acquainted with Kukrynisky (a collective name derived from the combined names of three caricaturists) – Mikhail Kupriyanov, Porfiri Krylov and Nikolai Sokolov.  After a short discussion they invited me into their team. In a while I started recollecting that when I was only 7 years’ old in a Crocodile magazine published in 1943 I saw a funny picture of a cow bringing a very profound idea which later turned out to be their creation. The next forty years I spent working in the Crocodile editor’s office. All my creations in the form of caricatures were based on the life experience combined with the sense of humor with bringing up some kind of a problem. I’ll give you for instance. Once, it was winter, the troop train brought some kind of equipment. People who were responsible for the delivery, engineers were dressed quite stylish but not warm enough, trousers, boots and caps they were wearing that time definitely were not for winter season. Whereas people who were receiving this very equipment in comparison with the engineers were dressed as they should be, warm clothes, felt boots. A very interesting dialogue with some kind of sense took place between them. According to the way engineers were dressed the equipment seemed not to work too long. It gave me an idea for a nice caricature.

– What did Kukrynisky say? Did they encourage you somehow?

– They truly encouraged and supported me saying that I was a very talented person who should study at the art school. Without any exams I entered the art school having the evening-time-classes, after 4 months and a half I was already taking exams. In a while I’ve learned some technics, the certain light, dramatic settings for my creations. Every artist first should become a naïve painter, and then gaining the experience I realized I should develop my personal touch. The most important thing in being an artist is their individuality.

– Speaking of the Masters tournament what is the main idea and message of the competitions?

– The Masters Tournament has a long bright future, especially embracing different kinds of sport. The main idea is to promote life; it even represents a distinct life within a life period. All these elderly athletes are quite sportive, positively charged human beings, wonderful family people. The opposite things like loneliness, illnesses and other things like that they usually bring person’s life to an end. That is why sport is the way for a long and healthy life!

– How does your usual day start?

– My morning exercise is to count up till one million!

– What do you mean to say?

– No worries! I count: one, two, three…million! I shout as loud as I can, put aside the blanket and feeling fresh enough I start my day! In winter I start my day with the skiing. Being a swimmer I have to train my arms that is why I have special slalom skis. My rout is 3 km long with a sort of a mount, first I come over it then I go down feeling as if I am flying!

– Do you have a lot of medals? I guess you sort of collect them.

– I have 200 medals, maybe more, I haven’t counted them so far. The Union of Artists has given me a studio where I want to hang all my medals in a very beautiful way. You know, once I’ve come across a very good slogan which I 100% agree with: “A medal is not a symbol of vanity but a symbol of a hard work. 

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