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 4x100-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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Born in Odessa, Ukraine, the Krayzelburg family moved to the United States
and Southern California in 1989. Lenny became a U.S. citizen in 1995.
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 named Sportsman of the Year by the United States Olympic Committee
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.