Yesterday in the men’s 200 meter breaststroke, 17-year-old Irakli Bolkvadze from Georgia made the Olympic Invitation Time of 2:16.35, clocking exactly 2:16.35 and 24th in the heats here at the Debrecen 2012 European Swimming Championships. He is the first ever Georgian swimmer to make the Olympic cuts, previous Georgian Olympic swimmers having participated for USSR before Georgia’s independence in 1991, and then later (if I understand it correctly) been granted wild cards.
His time of 2:16.35 is a new national Georgian record, having also set a national record in the men’s 200 IM by clocking 2:05.57, and holding the national record of 4:29.92 in the men’s 400 IM. He is now ranked 11th European age 17-18 in the men’s 200 breaststroke.
I had a chat with national coach Zura Khomasuridze this morning, who explained how they were still recovering after wars that in his time as active swimmer meant that they had no 50 meter pools, or maybe a pool but no water. Things are improving rapidly though, with Bolkvadze qualifying for the London 2012 Olympics now, and other, even younger swimmers combing through the ranks. Irakli still trains in Georgia, as he has always done. Georgians are looking forward to hosting the European Youth Olympic Festival in July 2015, see Tbilisi 2015.
Thanks to Georgian Swimmers Club for info !