Oleksandr Sydorenko, sometimes anglicized as Alexander Sidorenko, died on February 20 as the result of a COVID-19 infection. He was 61 years old.
Sydorenko was the 1980 Olympic gold medalist in the 400 IM swimming for the USSR. Between 1977 and 1986, he was a 20-time USSR champion. Besides his Olympic gold medal, he was also the 1982 World Champion in the 200 IM, the 1978 Worlds bronze medalist in the 200 IM, the 1981 European Champion in the 200 IM, and the 1977 European bronze medalist in the 200 IM.
He also won medals at the 1983 World University Games and 1984 Friendship Games.
Sydorenko held the World Record in the 200 IM for a brief period in 1978. He broke Canadian Graham Smith’s record on July 9, and American Steve Lundquist broke his record on August 7.
After retirement from swimming, he worked from 1987 to 2014 as the manager and coach of a water polo team in his native Mariupol, Ukraine. Following his coaching career, he worked as a volunteer with the local water polo federation there.
Because of the ongoing war with Russia, current data on coronavirus infections in Ukraine is less reliable. On February 20, when Sydorenko died, the country was just-off its peak of cases, though. Even though the dominant variant of the coronavirus at the time was the less-deadly omicron variant, the country still recorded 152 deaths on February 20 due to COVID-19.