Record-trading rivals heat up the pool
Take one rugged Siberian, steeled by icy waters and driven by an equally icy coach-mother. Add a brainy Virginian who sleeps in a high-altitude-simulation chamber under the watch of his Air Force colonel father. Then toss the two, Roman Sludnov and Ed Moses, into a pool, and you have the hottest rivalry in swimming. In the last 15 months the two breaststrokers have set nine world records between them, the most recent on June 29 when Sludnov broke the one-minute barrier for 100 meters with a 59.97 that beat Moses's May 28 record by .32. When the two 21-year-olds meet at the world championships, which begin on July 16 in Fukuoka, Japan, that mark is likely to be lowered again.
"For sure the hundred record will fall," says the 5'11", 175-pound Moses, who will swim the 200 in addition to facing Sludnov in the 50 and the 100. "He took what I had, and I want it back." Since January, Moses, a junior majoring in engineering at Virginia, has been sleeping in an altitude tent in his parents' basement in Burke, Va. He bought the $6,000 contraption, which replicates conditions at up to 15,000 feet, to increase his blood's oxygen-carrying capacity. Moses's parents, Glenn and Sissy, peek in on their son in the wee hours to ensure he isn't suffocating.
Sludnov's coach and mom, Natalia Roshchina, is a bit less solicitous. When the heat was shut off in May at the pool where her son trains in the Siberian city of Omsk, she insisted that he swim in the frigid water. He ended up getting sick but was back in form three weeks later when he made his historic swim in Moscow. "I feel like the first man in space," the 6'2", 170-pound Sludnov said after his 100 record. "This is compensation for not winning the Olympics."
In the 100 breaststroke in Sydney, Moses took the silver and Sludnov the bronze behind Italy's Domenico Fioravanti. Moses later won gold in the 4 x 100 medley relay. "It's like Rocky IV," says Moses of his slugfest with Sludnov. "Roman and I butting heads again. Sounds familiar."
Sounds like a broken record.