Ambasadorji Plavanja (2018) Plavalni klub Ljubljana


Swimming was always
popular in Ljubljana. Shortly after the Second World War, the Slovenian metropolis
got a new swimming club, and with it three sections
of future state champions. Those who knew
how to swim came together. It was Ljubljana’s fault,
that water polo started in Celje, Krško, Piran, Trbovlje… I don’t think that
anybody knew what diving was. The famous Kolezija swimming pool
hosted hundreds of athletes. It was a hotspot in Ljubljana,
slightly on the periphery, accessible to everyone. It was full of life. This was a green oasis
in the middle of Ljubljana if, we compare it to Ilirija
which was all concrete then. There were no trees there,
here, we had a park. That was the comparison, it’s green here,
and there it’s concrete. The club had its ups and downs,
crises and victories, but a long list of successes
on the anniversary’s year, testifies to its unique meaning
in the Slovenian sports scene. With such a tradition, it probably can be
an inspiration for other clubs. This work and profession,
all this connection, have given us
a number of excellent swimmers. At that time,
it was one of the leading Slovenian and Yugoslavian
swimming clubs. PKL – LJUBLJANA SWIMMING CLUB
SWIMMING AMBASSADORS ESTABLISHING A CLUB IN KOLEZIJA Such is the everyday picture,
of Kolezija swimming pool in Ljubljana at the time when members of
the Ljubljana Swimming Club, train. For many years now, the club has
been one of the best in the country, and currently the best in Slovenia. A hundred years after
the first train arrived in Ljubljana, something groundbreaking
happened again… The union’s competition
of the Železničar Sports Society encouraged the establishment
of a swimming section that soon turned into the largest
swimming club in Ljubljana and one of the most influential
in the whole country. The Železničar Swimming club
was founded in 1948. After I came to Ljubljana,
they invited me to their club, and because there weren’t
many swimmers at that time, I told them I knew how to swim,
and they recruited me. I came to Ljubljana in 1949. The club was founded in 1948,
and there were only a few swimmers. Then slowly coaches began to come,
both Mitja and Lidija Prešeren. Lidija even brought her team
from Ilirija to Ljubljana. In addition to swimmers and coaches,
the club also got a pool. People in Ljubljana were eager
to associate in the water and to swim. An important milestone
in the development of the club was the upgrading
of the Kolezija stadium. There were no other swimming pools, so there were 2.000 people here. Before this people swam
in the Ljubljanica River. But then the river
got slightly polluted and they were not able
to swim there anymore. Besides the once mighty Ilirija,
the Železničar Swimming club Ljubljana based in Kolezija,
soon came to the foreground. The opening of the renovated
swimming stadium in 1950 was accompanied by international
competition and a few thousand people. I swam in a opening competition
for Yugoslavia against Sweden. On both sides,
there were wooden stands that went very high up
and were fully packed. Here was a completely new
concrete swimming pool. It was well maintained,
and the surrounding was nice, so we felt good here. We would always,
through summer and late autumn spend all day every day here. Since the beginning we were alone,
there were no bathers. Besides dealing with children swimming,
we had to deal with their parents too. Swimming is a sport of children.
It doesn’t work without the parents. Mothers of swimmers
would make tea every day, so the children had something
warm to drink after swimming. The establishment of the swim team coincided with the diving
and the water polo section. Both soon became national champions and presented the club
in a diverse light. To play water polo,
at first you had to know how to swim. We transitioned to water polo
as it was more social than swimming. Silly as you are,
you were a good swimmer. Yes, I was a champion,
multiple times. He was always a member of
the national swim team for butterfly. It was tempting because you had
free entrance to Kolezija. And also you were cool
if you played water polo. The club remained
the property of railways, although it lost ˝Železničar˝ and was renamed into
Ljubljana Swimming Club. That was the reason
why we got train tickets to travel. We could travel to Radovljica
or even Belgrade. One year we were invited
to Athens to a swim meet, and we got our own wagon. I think there were
40 swimmers with the escort that went to Athens and back. When we traveled to Germany, I put Deutsche Mark in my left shoe
for safekeeping. Were you smuggling? Comrade Štih unscrewed
a painting in the wagon and put the club money behind it. All for nothing, because then
they changed wagon in Jesenice and we arrived in Germany
without any money, the Germans had to treat us. To show a gratitute,
we destroyed them in a match. The most difficult part in the club
was the activity of diving, as they were condemned
to visit the neighbours, the home of already pre-war known
and post-war significant – Ilirija. We didn’t even know
there were two clubs. We lived in harmony
and trained each other. We were rivals only in competitions. As the first section in the club,
in the mid-1950s, the diving team won not only
the republic but the national championship in team diving, and since then the vast majority
of them became representatives of the National Diving team. We have been the best since then. We were the only team that
continuously trained all year long. In the summer in the pools and,
in the winter in the gym. For this reason, we had
an advantage on the national scale and, no one could keep up with us. A lonely coach and a competitor,
as a member of the national team performed a difficult and,
responsible task of a head coach, but nevertheless, won a series
of titles of a national champion. At the Balkan games,
he won bronze twice. He was declared
the best Slovenian diver of the 60s. Five years later
he received Bloudkov’s plaque. This was a surprise to me because I trained for joy
and not for these diplomas. I was honored, and to me,
it was an acknowledgment that I was also recognized
as an athlete. THE 60s –
GOLDEN YEARS OF NATIONAL CHAMPIONS The golden 60s
were announced by swimmers. Despite the difficult conditions, they wanted to compete with the best
in the whole of Yugoslavia. The children grew
into good swimmers here. Some came to Ljubljana to study,
and they joined the club, like Čargo, Kostanjšek, and Vrhovšek. They all came to Ljubljana
from other cities. I trained in Celje. In 1962 I came to Ljubljana, and for the first time in my life
I saw a winter swimming pool. I was 17 years old. We trained in that small
14-meter Bloudek pool, and that is how my career began. In the company
of the best Yugoslav champions, the swimmers kept achieving better
results at national championships and were beating clubs
with a much richer tradition. It started in 1963, at a winter national
championship in Zagreb, where they won 3rd place
and surprised many. We practically had
only two strong opponents, Jadran Split, and Mornar. We needed more quality swimmers
in the men’s and women’s categories, so Dani Vrhovšek and Zlata Trtnik
joined our team and, this certainly was
one of the top swim teams. The great recognition for the club was organizing the national
championship in Kolezija in 1964. Swimmers achieved the greatest
success at the home swimming pool when they won
the national team championship as the first swim team
in post-war Slovenia. In that period, the coastal
or the dalmatian clubs were the only ones
that were supposed to swim well. We were the first inland club
that won the national championship. The atmosphere was great,
there was a huge crowd, I would say there were probably
500-1000 people there. All the stands
were completely packed. The atmosphere was like as if Maribor and Olimpija
were playing a football match, only we were, of better quality. They say that defending the title
might be harder than winning it. The swimmers carried out
the task with excellence and defended the title
of the national team champion. In the 1965 season, all the attention
was dedicated to this competition. For the three-day battle in Dubrovnik,
the swimmers even shaved their legs. We knew that
the world record holders and quality swimmers
were doing that, so we thought it would also help us. Back then we didn’t have various,
fast swimsuits, and this shows what great desire we had to reaffirm
the acquisition of this title. Again we went one for all,
and all for one. That was the first time
we saw Americans with shaved legs, so we made sure we had swimsuits
as small as possible and firmly tied, and if that provides
a 0.2 seconds advantage, it can make a difference
for a record. Teamwork was the reason
we became national champions twice. As individuals, we were already
national champions and record holders but in team competitions
the whole team matters. That means that 15-20 people were
able to compete with Dalmatian clubs in the conditions we had. We didn’t have a winter pool, and
still trained in a sink, a 14m bath, Therefore I personally consider, that
the greatest success for Ljubljana, was the confirmation
of the team’s title in Dubrovnik. In Kolezija they organized
individual national championship as a selective competition
for the European Championship. Dani Vrhovšek qualified
for the national team, and as a first club’s representative
competed at the Olympic Games, in Mexico in 1968. I had a bit of bad luck there
when I finished the race because I didn’t hit
the sensor plate hard enough. I realized that and I hit it again
with my other hand. Nonetheless, the experience
of the Olympics, and the atmosphere myself and many others
remember even today. After finishing his career, Dani Vrhovšek as a coach
replaced Mitja Prešeren, his teacher, who worked in the club
with his wife Lidija for 20 years, and with the team won
the national team championship twice. Together, they received the Bloudek
plaque and were most deserving, that the club received
the highest state award in sports. The Bloudek plaque indeed
was an achievement, especially in 1965, because the club
was relatively young and they really
had to prove themselves. In the golden sixties, water polo
players came to the highest peaks. Despite their youth and inexperience, they regularly fought to enter
into the 2nd federal league. The 1959 local team of Ljubljana. Adlešič, Franc Lukman, Peter Marc,
Milan Ježič, Borut Volkar, me Aleksander Bassin and Aco Kostov. This here is
with Borut Volkar at Kolezija, before the match at Kolezija. Volkar had to repeat
final exams in high school so we had to wait for him because
we couldn’t play without him. We instigated the children
from Kolezija to cut the rope so they couldn’t set the goals. Two hours later Volkar came
and we played but lost to Spartak by one goal. That’s when the idea
of the federal league dissolved. The guys waited for 13 years
to enter the 2nd federal league. In 1961 they remain undefeated, Dubrovnik brought another success
and in the fifth try, they managed to win
the first out of three seasons among the water polo elite
in the golden sixties. In 1961, it was the eighth
and dropped out, also in 1968 and 1970. My specialty was
that I could show my swimsuit. I wouldn’t do that in my dreams now. THE DOMICILE OF A FAMILY CLUB Success contributed to the resolution
of the municipal community, which handed over all the devices
of the swimming pool to the club. Soon Kolezija became the central
gathering place of Ljubljana, and a new generation of parents
was responsible for the rebirth
of the swimming pool. The club got the property of the pool
and therefore the management, and had to take care of the investment
maintenance of the building. This was a kind of domicile for us,
where we could meet, and where we saw
the interest to prepare the facility, not only for Ljubljana swimmers
but for our competitors also. It required a lot of volunteer work,
which brought people together. Like today we had
no money back then, probably even less, so a lot of things
were done voluntarily. If the weather was warm in June, we sold 1200-1500 tickets
during the week, and over 2000 on weekends. Once we sold a record 2252 tickets, plus seasonal tickets, so the daily
attendance was over 2500. Therefore we took great care that in good weather
the pool was crowded like today, that the water was clean,
impeccable, and from these entrance fees
we created material conditions. The club successfully installed
a stove for heating the pool water, which was a great acquisition that
extended the number of training days, and bathing days
at Kolezija in general. We reached a record,
that when we were training the temperature was 14.5 °C. If the snow fell,
it was so cold that at half-time, we went to the corner of the pool,
and peed so it would get warmer. We didn’t add fresh water every day
because it would get colder, and the only heating was the sun. In 1972 we got a heat station, and then there was
a crisis and no oil. But I had a friend at Petrol, to whom I gave
family season tickets and then there was
enough oil to get. In the 1970s a large void
appeared among the swimmers. The generation that won the national
championship said their farewell, and after focusing
on successes of senior teams, it was necessary
to educate a new generation. When I quit swimming,
I realized that there is no good cadre in Ljubljana. I tried to save that problem
by going to different schools in Vič to organize pool tests,
to choose quality swimmers that we later included in our work. If you have Olympic athletes,
top-class swimmers, national record holders in the club
it certainly is an affirmation for every parent
who joins the club. We trained everywhere we could,
at Belinka and Vevče, we also drove to Kranj to train
and used all the possible options. Organizational and spatial
capabilities were critical during the winter, when the
majority of all clubs from Ljubljana, crowded in a small pool at Ilirija. It was pretty uncomfortable there
because it was rather dark and cold, and the children were miserable
in that puddle in the winter. That’s how we trained
for three months in the winter. We had one hair dryer
which mostly didn’t work, and a boiler room where we dried
our towels for the next day. Other than that we had nothing,
except a small locker room one male, and one female, that’s it. The conditions for swimming
are extremely bad in Ljubljana. They waited for an hour and a half
and even offered chocolate, only to be able
to get involved with us. It’s actually a cultural
embarrassment that still today, we don’t have
such conditions in Ljubljana. We don’t have a swimming pool, where
youth could work on a daily basis. In those difficult times, Dušan Kit
collected a group of former swimmers and directed them to coach training. In the summer
swimming schools came to life, and the number of people
enrolled in the club tripled and the tendency to massiveness in the subsequent years
also brought results. Watch the pace. It’s good,
just keep up the speed. Let’s go. These swimming schools
were well known everywhere, and all parents, if they were able,
brought their children here. From this cadre, we chose children and started teaching them
all the techniques. Besides that, we were also
educating younger coaches. At that time, engineer Dušan Kit
gave me a group of young swimmers, with whom I quickly got along,
and started making good results, so I persisted practically for
more than 43 years in this business. The annual PKL swimming school
is surely the most massive one. In the last few years, over
300 children and around 100 adults have applied to this school
to learn the swimming alphabet. The most merit has the long-standing
swimming teacher in the club, professor Miha Potočnik who
has been teaching for over 20 years. The work of swimming schools
has progressed rapidly. Beginner Miha Potočnik,
with ambitious club workers has been carrying out swimming
schools throughout the years and has always raised a new,
young generation of swimmers. These swimming schools at Kolezija
were legendary. We had 150 children in one term. In the morning
parents brought their children, and they had a swimming course,
and afternoon daycare with lunch. Practically all of us
learned to swim at those courses. A lot of children from Ljubljana
passed through these schools, and if you have a wide base,
you can choose the best. This was purely automatic. They advanced from
swimming schools to older groups. Because then we had younger pioneers,
older pioneers, juniors, and they all had the interest,
to go to an older group. We had, like a pyramid system, every team had
its own staff and coach. We were the first club at that time
that was so well organized. THE OPENING OF NEW POOLS On May 10th, 1975
Stane Dolanc opened the Central Winter
Swimming pool in Tivoli, followed by diving competition
from a 5-meter platform and a water polo tournament. Like that Ljubljana got
a long-awaited sports facility which should enable all
to train throughout the season. We were expecting, that due to
the winter pool in Tivoli, we would get
the conditions for training. But when I went to make arrangements
for training sessions they said, that they could only give us
the 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. sessions. It was nonsense. In spite of the new winter pool,
divers were left without training and poorly thought out diving
platforms remained unexploited. The club had
the best divers in Yugoslavia, the pillars of the national team when the diving section
officially ceased to exist in 1975. When the well-known Bloudek Tower
at Ilirija was knocked down, divers had no training
options in Ljubljana. All diving activity died away, despite the extremely long
and successful tradition. We came to train,
and the platform was gone. They couldn’t get rid of divers
otherwise but to knock down the tower. It was the end of diving,
but because we were good, we still performed
for the national team. We were all still so young
that we could have made progress, but were rendered impossible. With the opening of the new pool,
the conditions improved for swimmers and enabled a revolutionary
novelty – morning training. The effort was paid off
when the group, led by Dušan Kit broke records and won medals. The biggest success was the title
of national team champions. They were my husband’s competitors, and these girls were
unbelievable in Yugoslavia. For example, at the National
Championship in Rijeka, the first three places
in 400m freestyle went to our girls, they were that good. Later they were pillars
of the National Yugoslav team. Those were great swimmers,
for example, Markovič Jana, and Nevenka Vovk, they were
class swimmers on our scale. We were Yugoslav champions,
record holders, for example when we went on a swimming meeting
to Einrink in Germany we won almost all the medals
at that German championship. The coaches were thinking about how
to facilitate training twice a day, especially during the school period. For example, I went to Majda Vrhovnik
school, and in 7th and 8th grade we had already had three
training sessions in the morning. Exactly at half past seven
we jumped in the water and did not go out of the pool
not a minute till half past eight. There was no way to get to school
on time at eight, I always came late, at ten past eight.
I always got unexcused absence, every week, even when the coach
went to talk to the teacher, unexcused absence. Such is our sport,
like fish we have to adapt to water. At that time the whole world
started training more, and it became clear
that we didn’t have the facilities like everywhere else in the world,
where they went to school and train. We had schools and pools in different
places, so there was no other option, but for the parents to drive their
children to the pool in the morning. They realized that without their help,
they could not achieve top results. Parents were always very helpful
in coordinating the demanding school
and swimming schedule. In many aspects, they were a pillar for not only successful swimmers
bur for the whole club. When you step into a club,
the first task of a parent is to encourage the child
to enjoy the sport, and to take care of school
obligations parallel to swimming. Suddenly the club becomes a society
of 100 people with a common interest, and becomes an institution besides
school that educates their children. After that the parent’s career
starts to develop, you can even do functionary duties,
that’s what happened to me, and in a couple of years I took
over the leadership of the club. We parents practically
did everything, first of all, we made sure
that our children were here, we were referees, we also
set up lanes when necessary, cleaned and colored the pool,
and drove children to competitions. Parents are the ones who wanted to bring their children
on the right path. I walked by the pool
and my role was to gave my oldest son rhythm with a shout. Every stroke, when his head was out,
I shouted ˝aye˝. O course I knew
how to build that ˝aye˝, and so towards the finish,
I shouted quicker, and my son’s strokes got faster, and at the finish,
there were results. Parents performed many functions. The first electronic
measuring device˝Cairoscop˝ was imported into
the territory of Yugoslavia. The experiment was carried out
at Kolezija in the summer of 1977, and the device has been used there
for years to measure time in competitions. At that time, they started
with electronic measuring that used to be these heavy boards and a computer to operate with them. Back then we imported
computers from America, and I asked a worker
to change all the labels, so it would be part of the computer. When we installed it all, we had
a grand opening because they came from all over Yugoslavia to watch
this wonder that no one had. After that,
all competitions held here were measured electronically
with this computer and devices. The new generation of parents
attracted many famous people from Ljubljana,
and gradually ideas were born about how to use the facility
for additional social activities. One of the first attempts
was to organize an evening swimming
school for adults. Then we said let’s make a whole day
children care for children that can’t go to on vacation. The last attempt was to use
the facility for artistic purposes because we had the incentive of famous musicians and actors
from Ljubljana who were members of the club. The events themselves
were disciplined as needed, but after a competition
at such festivities, I put on a straw hat and wore a swimsuit with suspenders. We were playing lifeguards, and that made everybody laugh. The buzz among
the competitors came to life. Swimmers from elsewhere,
especially students increasingly started
to join the club. Therefore if you came to Ljubljana,
and trained as needed meant that you were one of
the first three in Yugoslavia. It was a guarantee for success then. I know I slept in that t-shirt
with the coat of arms and it was wrinkled in the morning,
but it was such an honor to be in the national team
at that time. For me, I would say
it was the greatest thing. That goal 100m under a minute,
was a barrier for me as it was for many people
running 100m under 10s, and to be the first Slovenian
to do it was great. I remember in 1982
at the National Championship I was sure I would
swim under a minute, but I finished in 1.00.21, and that meant
one more year of training. The next year I did it in 00.59.27. To me, it was a limit
I thought was unreachable. Coaches always followed trends
in training development in the world. Various club experts have introduced
many revolutionary innovations over the years that, influenced
the work of all subsequent swimmers of Slovenian territory, and are still
being used today in an updated form. We always continued the tradition
of novelties in the club. We were the first to use lactates in collaboration
with the Faculty of Sport. Then I went to Font-Romeu
with my three Olympians. It was about training optimization
where we wanted the individual components of the training better
and more economical developed, so that the limits of training
in these zones allow us better adaptation
and better results in competitions. NOBLE SLOVENIAN GENERATION In the early eighties,
a new generation of top swimmers started to ripen in the club. My family was basically, my peer with whom
we trained together. After morning training,
we sometimes got buns or goulash, and then basically spent
the whole day at Kolezija until the afternoon training. First of all, the difference was
that after the training we always stayed together,
but today they go their own way. The parents today wait
for their children almost at the edge of the pool to grab
their child and take them home. But we back then would climb those
trees at Kolezija after training or play on the basketball court,
or in the pool. There was always
something going on. Experienced coaching cadre attracted
the best swimmers from Ljubljana and soon three of the upcoming
Olympians were formed, that pushed a new generation
of top swimmers. It’s true that at that time, the profession concentrated
in this club, and the most promising swimmers
in the area of Ljubljana, somehow gravitated to this club, which also contributed to the fact
that we were successful as a group. I was 14 years old when I transferred
from Olimpija to Ljubljana, and I know that Čermak
was one of the best coaches here in Slovenia
or former Yugoslavia. He offered my brother and me
the opportunity to start training with him,
and we accepted. I had a bit of luck with coaches, with Marija I was playing
and fell in love with swimming, and with Čermak
I became a top sportsman. Marija was basically
our second mother. With her we didn’t have
the feeling we were training, it was more like extended daycare. With Čermak we trained seriously. He had a special
relationship with swimmers, and hence is an expert as he is. It was a prestige if you worked
at Ljubljana swimming school. When Čarmak was successful
with Bučar and the Majcen brothers, he had a lot of offers
to go elsewhere or even abroad, but he remained loyal to Ljubljana. Especially with young people,
you have to deal in a different way. It doesn’t matter
what kind of person you are, whether you have
a lot of Olympians or not. The young are interested
in a simple clause, and that’s how much time
or yourself you invest in them. You need to find those few minutes
in training and talk to each of them. Working with young people is different
than working with senior members because with seniors you explain,
observe and give corrections, but with the young,
you have to be present from another pedagogical point of view. Each generation of swimmers
had its own specific qualities. The constant, and companion of all
was ice cold water. I was always told by
swimmers and coaches, because we were always freezing, to ask my father Janez
to warm up the water. At that time, the pool didn’t have
any automatics, as it does now. They threw buckets
of blue vitriol in the pool, and the biggest litmus was,
of course, Bučar. Because he was blonde,
thin, and freezing, but when he turned green,
everybody told me to tell my father that he threw too much
of blue vitriol in the pool. I was always a chilly person,
so I exactly knew when there was no warm water or when I would be
freezing during the training. This old pool was such that the warm
water came from just one side, so we often had one half of the pool
warm and the other cold. The hot water only came
through these thick pipes. When you went to the deep end,
it was ice cold. I often cried because of the cold. One time my mother asked me
if my goggles were leaking, but I was afraid to tell her
I was crying for being cold, and that they were
tears in the goggles, not water. Many of the best swimmers
started long-distance swimming. Despite the fact,
that there was no special section dedicated to long-distance
swimming in the club, the Majcen brothers became
European champions in Hvar in 1989. The then Yugoslav coach Vinko Šoljan
took it very seriously, and we were striving
to reach the highest positions. In the end, we managed
to win numerous medals. I won a 5 km race,
and Nace won a 25 km race. It’s true that it was the first, but there were already 16 countries
at the first European Championship. In such conditions
like high waves and storms, I didn’t even imagine
I would swim well regarding I was used to swimming in pools. In the end, it all worked out and being European champion
ment something special. In the years before the independence,
a new top-class generation matured, as the swimmers
successfully participated in team championships in Yugoslavia,
and junior Balkan championships. There were 48 swimming clubs
in Yugoslavia, so if you wanted to reach the top 8,
you really had to work hard. We had 15 juniors,
who participated in competitions, today it’s a question if a Slovenian
club even has 15 juniors. We could set up the relay
as we wanted and finished first and second in Yugoslavia. There’s no secret here there is
only hard work, 12 years of it. I think that during
the four-year period, we had 12 swimmers from Ljubljana
at the Junior European championship. At that moment
you were proud and happy, and even more when you won a medal. In 1991 the Independence War marked the performances
of the best Slovenian swimmers, so Jure Bučar, Igor Majcen,
and their coach Vlado Čermak had to return home from
the Mediterranean Games in Athens. I thought I was going to
win two medals, one in 200m and one in the 400m freestyle, but then we received a message
from the Slovenian government not to compete for Yugoslavia. Because there was a war in Slovenia
we immediately decided that, we would no longer
compete for Yugoslavia. I remember that we protested, and left The Mediterranean
Games in Greece. I was a candidate
for two gold medals, but it was more important for me
to follow the principles that we wanted to live by
at that time. The remarkable three from the club
achieved the norms for taking part at the Olympic Games in Barcelona, which was a historic
success for the club. My first performance for Slovenia was,
in fact, at the Olympic Games, which stayed in my memory forever. That was a fantastic year, the three of us from the same club
went to the Olympics. We were all very pleased,
everything worked out, but we worked hard for it,
all three of us. We wanted to overcome one another
at each training session. We motivated one another. As a team, we were strong,
and it showed at competitions. It was, in fact,
a big national charge, so we felt more responsibility and the expectations
from the public were high. Then there was also this feeling,
that you did something for people, and maybe made their day better,
with your success, which meant a lot. Igor Majcen became only the fourth
Slovenian in the Olympic final, and with excellent swimming
took 6th place. The most successful club swimmer
attended three Olympic Games. Every swimmer who wants to achieve
as much as possible in this sport paces his form for this moment, so it makes sense that there
is the strongest competition. When you manage to achieve
the best result at the Olympics, you can be satisfied
that you reached one stage goal and you can peacefully go forward. The peak occurred
at the European Championship. After Dani Vrhovšek and Jure Bučar, Igor became the third representative
of the club in the finals, and won the bronze medal in the
grand final, in Sheffield in 1993. It was the first medal for the club, and the newly formed country
at big competitions and represents the greatest success,
in the history of the club. I was a member of the world swim
summit for the last 4 or 5 years, and I knew if I was patient,
and worked hard, the medal would come. Of course, other awards followed which also made me happy,
as the medal itself. Sports journalists association
of Slovenia named Igor Majcen the best athlete in 1993. Together with coach Čermak,
they received the Bloudek plaque. This is great recognition
in the field of sports, the biggest actually in this country, and I am happy that people saw
something in my involvement in sport and therefore rewarded me. SURVIVING ON NEW FOUNDATIONS Swimming schools in the club
were of great importance through all the years, as they were
pioneers in the Slovenian territory. The generation of swimmers
who began to realize their dreams started to emerge again and again. At that time my father
was so enthusiastic when I came home with this gold dolphin,
that he said he would immediately enroll me in swimming school,
and since he was from Vič and spent his summers at Kolezija,
there was no choice but to enroll in
Ljubljana Swimming Club. The pool wasn’t just a swimming pool
but also a bathing pool. It was a place where
you met your friends, and because of that,
I call it a pool with soul. When my father finished his career, he knew that I could
gain a lot from sports, so he put me in daycare
and swimming school here, where I slowly began
to grow with my peers. On the 40th anniversary,
the club for the first time conducted a traditional
competition for boys and girls. The Ježek cup has grown
from a local competition of three clubs from Ljubljana
to the most prestigious meeting of young swimmers
in the former Yugoslavia, which is attended by
more than 700 children every year. They have a starter and a referee that blows the whistle
to jump into the water, and for the first time,
they compete against swimmers from other Slovenian clubs That is their first chance to show
their families and their clubs and also coaches,
what they learned so far. We named it Ježek (hedgehog) because at that time
Jugobanka joined as a sponsor, and gave us those piggy banks
as prizes, which were designed by the now deceased and also
a former swimmer, Miki Muster. In the first years of independence, Kolezija still had
good conditions for training, which was advantageously
exploited by the youngest, who regularly participated in
the European and World Youth Games. There were over 5,000 athletes
from more than 130 countries, and I unexpectedly won a bronze medal. Many parents from the club came
to Brnik to greet us, and to me, it seemed so nice that the club
was so connected in such successes. My first medal
from the national championship was especially memorable for me. I was so proud of that,
it was a medal in the relay, and after that,
I wanted a solo medal. That wasn’t enough for me,
so I wanted ten gold medals, and that’s how I started tallying
medals and building my career. After the celebration
of the 50th anniversary when the club was at its peak,
a hard decade followed. The closing of the pool, disconnecting
the electricity and water, reducing the number of members,
mortgage problems, litigation, and fire at the entrance
of Kolezija facility from which there was virtually nothing left. We saw how the shape of the pool
and everything changed. It was hard to watch
when they didn’t have enough money to maintain the place,
and the water was always cold. Also, various parties
were organized at the pool, so in the morning when you arrived
for a Saturday training session, cans would be floating in the pool. In 2001 the pool finally fell apart,
and the tenants literally fled. It was well known that
many mortgages were accumulated, and when the oil ran out,
the water was freezing. In the morning, when the children arrived, the chairs were floating on water. Suddenly it became a ruin,
and everything was stolen. It was sad. At that time the club was
on its way to finishing its life, but thanks to few persevering people who succeeded to bring the club
back on track. We are athletes, so we never give up, and fortunately, a team of parents
helped us survive. We really were
on the verge of collapse. I worked from home for 7 years, because there was
no electricity in the facility. Even without a home pool, the club
managed to continue its tradition. The Ljubljana City cup was
transferred from Rovinj in 1975, and so began a series
of competitions, that gave the club a lot of knowledge, acquaintances,
and last but not least successes. It’s the 43rd traditional
competition in a row, and our main and primary goal is
to keep our competition. You have to have
a strong competition if you want to be a big club. You have to invite foreign clubs to come and compete
with them on home turf. I remember we competed
at the Ljubljana City Cup, ever since we started training. There was always
a huge number of teams from abroad and a lot of competitiveness. The stands were full here, so I was always glad that this pool
also has such a competition. Since then, the Ljubljana City Cup has attracted a lot of swimmers
from all over Europe, so we could see the competition swim. The competition, in fact,
started to grow here, and the best training is a swim meet. As a unique enrichment,
of the swimming holiday, serves the club relay in which,
each of the hundreds of performers, by their capabilities and regardless
of technique, swims the distance. The first time we had that was
at the 50th anniversary of the club, and there were
14 participating countries. And four years ago, we had 721 competitors at Kodeljevo. It wasn’t the Ljubljana City Cup
but the Ljubljana Swimming Club Cup. Even today there still is
the traditional 100×50 m relay where swimmers, parents, coaches, and basically everyone from
Ljubljana Swimming Club swam. It was also connected with the fact,
that a large number of people, from Ljubljana,
spent their youth at Kolezija. The season always ended
with the famous club picnic, when they all came
to finish the season. NEW GOALS AND PEAKS There is nothing to fear
about the future. After Vlado Čermak left,
Domen Majhen has been training a generation of
young talented swimmers. I am very proud of my club, and I proudly wear the colors
of the Ljubljana Swimming Club. I have been working with Domen
for 12 years now, I’m 18 now,
so basically my entire life. To me, Domen was excellent, because he had
a different approach to swimming. He liked to learn new things
and test them on us. He knew what he was doing,
so I trusted him. A lot of former swimmers
begin to work in swimming schools. They get devoted to it, and some of them stay
as I have, for 30 years. With persistent work, the new generation
achieved excellent results. Tara Vovk won first medal for the
club at the European Championship, while the fifth Olympian was greeted
at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. I had a lot of support from Slovenia. I received text messages
from teammates and coaches. I knew that everyone
was watching me on television, but when you are there,
you are focused on your performance, and can’t absorb
what’s going on around you. When it’s over,
and the adrenaline wears off, you realize what happened. I traveled to Hungary,
for the European Youth Championship with a goal, to win a medal. In the morning preliminaries, I broke my own personal
and a national junior record. In the semi-finals,
I swam 0.4 seconds faster, and in the final,
I won second place. I didn’t know that it was
the first medal for our club, and I was honored,
it was me who won it. Not only that we had Olympians, but we practically had swimmers
in the finals at every big competition such as the World Championship, the European Championship
and the European Games, the Mediterranean Games, we had
Balkan medalists, record holders, and a whole range of swimmers that
went through our club and there was a lot of success in all categories
so we can be extremely proud. We literally have to
get these children addicted to water and swimming, so they go to the pool
not because of me or their parents, but because of company and friends. They have to have
a good time at the pool, and results will come
in further development. I think it’s a combination of both. On one side a critical mass
of children swimmers, and on the other, an idea of progress
or willingness of people, to basically sacrifice
their free time, for the sport,
and club itself. When we went to competitions
we didn’t go by bus, it took 10 parents
to drive the competitors. Sometimes you had to sacrifice
Saturdays or Sundays to help, and that holds us together. This sociability accompanying
swimming is a way of life, for example, parents who accompany
their children at competitions. Seventy years of existence is a lot, and every anniversary
is a unique turning point. The contribution
of the Ljubljana Swimming Club to Slovenian sports is immeasurable. The fact that a voluntary
institution is 70 years old, and that it works continuously,
is respectful. We have to be proud of
the achievements of the club. If we look through the years,
and all generations, we see how many young people that is. I think that the Ljubljana
Swimming Club is still powerful, not only in Slovenia
but also in Europe. It constantly produces
top-class swimmers, which I really like. Ever since Dani Vrhovšek,
Ljubljana Swimming Club was always at the top of Slovenian swimming
and from all this, some of them
thrive at the international level. At the same time,
it also creates a tradition, and when new generations take place, they have a way of work
that has brought results, and I think it is great for now
and for the future. It’s a tradition that we have
good swimming schools, and that we have good results. Tradition is the recognition of the
club itself in Slovenia and outside. Basically, all the activities that
we are dealing with within the club, in my opinion,
make this club special. Swimming and other
activities in water have a long and rich
tradition in Ljubljana, with many active swimmers,
water polo players, and divers who had many
sports enthusiasts by their side. This tradition has lived
for decades… In summer this is
the most beautiful sport because there is water,
sun, air, and freedom. It is socializing,
and we boys and girls show our beautiful bodies in swimsuits. It is a top sport. Firstly it was a cheap sport because you only had to pay
a membership fee, and nothing else. In addition to that,
it is also a useful sport, it upgrades your whole body,
and extends your muscles. It’s good for your spine, and
that’s why I never had any problems. I cannot remember
that anyone got injured, I personally never even got sick. Swimming gives you work habits,
and you are put in a clock system, which can also
help you plan your life. Swimmers get up at 5 am,
and we do two training sessions. One who is capable as a child
to work hard for five hours a day has no problems doing anything
at work, at home or in the family. That is exactly what swimming gave me order, discipline, and hard work. Now, of course, in the career field. If you want to be good, you have
to be ready to put in a lot of work. If you don’t dedicate your time,
will, and energy to swimming you can’t be the best. It’s connected to the fact that
for every training you miss, you have to do two sessions
to be at the same level you were. I personally know it is a struggle,
and I was the first against it. My children started
training secretly, and when I found out, they were
already passionate swimmers. When I was younger,
I was focused on medals, and winning cups,
but now when I look back, it was more about socializing,
friends, and support in life. Through sport, not only swimming you learn order and discipline
and don’t cultivate egoism. In fact, you create team spirit
in the individual sport also, and that motivates you in life. Alongside swimming, we learned some of the things
that stayed in our lives. Firstly, if you want to be
successful, you have to work hard, and secondly, it is necessary
to know that for failure, you have to find reasons
with oneself first. Swimming gives you everything
you need later in life. A basis for a person
to characteristically develop in a way to be useful to society, and be satisfied with himself. Sport educates, and anyone involved in sports will succeed in life and will have nice memories of youth. Directed, written, narrated and
edited by Toni Cahunek Camera: Timotej Istenič, Aljoša
Korenčan, Rok Kadoič, Toni Cahunek Post production:
Timotej Istenič Mimo Music by Drejc Pogačnik Audio engineer:
Blaž Cilenšek Archive:
TV Slovenia archive Thanks to: 70th anniversary:
LJUBLJANA SWIMMING CLUB, since 1948 Production: Mimart Studio
and Ljubljana Swimming Club

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