Lenny Krayzelburg is a four-time Olympic gold medalist. He won his first gold medals in each of the three events he swam at the 2000 Olympic Games––100-Meter Backstroke, 200-Meter Backstroke and 4×100-Meter Medley Relay. He established new Olympic records in the 100m—53.72, and 200m—1:56.76. And, his lead leg set the pace for the 400m Relay gold medal victory that set a new World record––3:33.73.
Despite knee and shoulder surgeries that kept him out of most competition during the three years following the 2000 Games, Krayzelburg came back to qualify for the 2004 Athens Olympics and won a gold medal, his fourth, with the U.S. 4x100m Medley Relay team.
Krayzelburg won his first two U.S. national championships (100m & 200m) in 1996. Success at the 1997 NCAA Championships was his ‘breakthrough’, taking the 200m Backstroke title in the fourth fastest time in history.
The Ukraine-born Southern California backstroke champion has held five World records, setting three of them at the 1999 Pan Pacific Championships: 50m Backstroke–24.99, 100m Backstroke–51.28, and 200m backstroke–1:55.87. World marks #4 and #5 are: the 200m Backstroke Short Course–1:52.43, and the aforementioned 400m Medley Relay at the 2000 Olympics.
At the 1998 World Championships, Krayzelburg became the first swimmer in 12 years to sweep both backstroke events at a World Championships or Olympics. In August 1999, at the U.S. Nationals, he set a new American record in the 200m Backstroke for the fifth time since 1997. Later that same month, he reset the World 200m mark, clocking 1:55.87 at the Pan Pacific Championships. At the same event three days earlier, he established a new World record in the 100m Backstroke–53.60.
Krayzelburg won numerous other titles, including gold medal victories in various events such as the 1998 Goodwill Games, 1999 and 2000 FINA World Cup meets, the Short Course World Championships, and eleven U.S. national titles in the 100m and 200m events.
The newly crowned three-time Olympic champion skipped the 2001 World Championships, opting instead to join the U.S. Team at the World Maccabiah Games in Israel, where he won a pair of gold medals.
Following the Maccabiah, Krayzelburg had surgery to repair an ailing left shoulder. Recovery kept him from competing in 2002. A problem with his left knee the following year forced Krayzelburg again under the knife, causing him to skip the 2003 World Championships. Nonetheless, just prior to the knee surgery, he won the 2003 U.S. National 100m Backstroke title, his 11th career U.S. championship.
He had shown considerable swimming promise as a junior in Odessa, and continued his development in America, enrolling at L.A.’s Fairfax High School and the Westside Jewish Community Center. His first major age group competition was at the 1990 Maccabi Youth Games.
In 1993, Krayzelburg came under the tutelage of Santa Monica Community College swimming coach Stu Blumkin, who introduced him to University of Southern California swim coach Mark Shubert. The backstroke phenom was awarded a full USC athletic scholarship, majored in finance and investment, and graduated in 1998.
Krayzelburg was a finalist for United States Olympic Committee Sportsman of the Year in 1998, and was chosen USA Swimmer of the Year each of the following two years. In 2001, he was inducted in to the Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and USC Hall of Fame. He is a member of International Jewish Hall of Fame and in May 2011 Lenny’s swimming career was truly completed when he was inducted into International Swimming Hall of Fame.
Lenny is married and has twin daughters Daniella and Alexa.
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