Lenny Krayzelburg is an American backstroke swimmer. Krayzelburg was born to
Jewish parents in Odessa (formerly in the Soviet Union, now in the Ukraine). He
and his family left the Soviet Union in 1989, to look for new opportunities in
the United States and they settled in Los Angeles. In 1995, he became a
naturalized citizen of the United States. Three years later became the first
swimmer since 1986 to sweep the backstroke events, (100m and 200m), in the world
championships. Later that month Krayzelburg broke both the 100 and the 200m
world records respectively, setting the clock on 53.60 and 1.55.87. He was then
recognized as the top backstroke swimmer in the world and one of the best in the
history of this swimming style.
He continued to dominate at the Sydney 2000 Olympics backstroke, shattering the
Olympic record and nearing his own 1998 world record with 53.72 in the 100m,
while making another Olympic record in the 200m with 1.56.76. He also played an
important role in helping the American team win a gold medal in the 4x100m relay
with a new world record of 3.33.73.
After the Olympics Krayzelburg decided to skip the 2001 World Championships that
took place in Fukuoka, Japan, in order to focus on the Maccabiah games in Israel.
Being Jewish, Krayzelburg wanted to take this once-in-a-lifetime chance to
compete with other top Jewish athletes. In addition, he wanted to fulfill a
childhood dream by visiting the holy land and lifting the American delegacy flag
during the games' opening ceremony.
Couple of months later he had to undergo surgery on his left knee, following a
fall while running on a treadmill, after which he had to take a year off
swimming. In September 2003, Krazelburg split from his coach Mark Schubert, to
start training under Dave Salo, who also coached Aaron Peirsol. Peirsol was
considered by many to be Krayzelburg's successor. Working with Salo, Krayzelburg
changed the style of his stroke, particularly due to his shoulder injuries.
This turn in Krayzelburg's career proved to be successful. He finished second in
the American trials for the 100 meters event to secure a place in the 2004
Athens Olympics, alongside training partner, Aaron Peirsol. His good shape
enabled him to reach the finals. He came into this final knowing this might be
his career's last, but missed out on a medal by just 2/100 of a second, with a
qualitative result of 54.38, whereas Piersol won gold with 54.06. Krayzelburg
made up for the upset by helping the American team to win yet another Olympic
gold in the 4x100m relay, despite not swimming in the final of this event (he
swam in the preliminary round, while Piersol took his spot in the final).
Krayzelburg is known as one of the physically strongest swimmers around, and for
his powerful arm strokes that cut the water like a propellor. Additionally, he
was voted as 1999's USA swimmer of the year.