Legendary Russian synchronized swimmer Natalia Ishchenko has announced her retirement from competition.
Ishchenko has garnered quite the hardware collection over her illustrious career. She’s a five-time Olympic champion, having won gold in the team competition at the last three Games as well as gold as part of a duet with Svetlana Romashina for the last two Games.
After her gold medal sweep at the 2012 London Games, she gave birth to her son Semyon in 2013– she took a break from the sport for that reason. Ishchenko came back in time to qualify for the Rio Games, her final Olympics, where she defended both of her 2012 golds.
The 30-year-old has also compiled 19 World Champs golds, 12 European Champs golds, and 2 silvers from each. That brings her major international gold medal total to 36, with 4 silvers as well.
Ishchenko has been a leader of the Russian surge in synchronized swimming this century. The sport was dominated largely by the U.S., Canada, and Japan in the 80s and 90s, until the 2000 Olympics when Russia swept the duet and team golds. Since the Sydney Games, Russia has won gold in both synchronized swimming events at every Olympics.