The minutes tick away in swimming’s equivalent of purgatory: it’s the last call room.
For some it must feel like hell. But for Hungary’s Katinka Hosszú this is a space of serenity. This is a space where she starts to embrace victory, drawing strength in her pursuit of gold.
Why? Because the 28-year-old believes races are defined by mentality, to the extent that they are largely settled before swimmers have even entered the pool.
“I do believe that basically in the last call room before the race … it’s pretty much done,” Hosszú tells CNN Sport ahead of the 17th FINA World Championships in Budapest this month.
“It depends what kind of mentality you go in with. I do believe that. It’s about how ready you are … after that, the race is going to happen exactly [as you imagine.]”
As she moves from the last call room to the pool and the starting block, Hosszu’s psychological preparation intensifies.
“When I walk out, I don’t even see the crowd,” Hosszú says. “I don’t even hear anything. I usually listen to music, so I’m already in my zone. I have my lane, I have my black line, and that’s it.”