Kliment Kolesnikov is a Russian backstroke and freestyle specialist. Kolesnikov is an Olympic medalist, world champion, and former world record holder, having been the first man ever to go under 24 seconds in the 50m backstroke.
Kolesnikov earned his first international call up for Russia in 2016 at the European Junior Championships and he made a grand entrance. He broke the World Junior record in both the 50 and 100 meter backstroke en route to the gold medals. He posted a 24.94 in the 50 and 53.65 in the 100. He also picked up silvers in the 400 meter mixed and mens medley relays and finished fourth in the 200 meter backstroke.
A year later at the same meet he won gold in the 50 and 200 meter backstroke, earned a silver in the 100 meter backstroke and the two medley relays and a bronze in 400 meter freestyle relay.
2017 World Championships (Budapest, Hungary)
Kolesnikov qualified for his first senior international meet by breaking the World Junior Record in the 200 meter backstroke at the Russian Championships. He posted a 1:55.49 to break the previous record by well over one second.
In Budapest Kolesnikov made a statement by finishing fourth in the 200 meter backstroke just a few weeks after his 17th birthday. He set a new Junior World Record in the semi-final to lower his best to 1:55.15. In the final he lowered it even further to 1:55.14 and was just 0.08 away from the bronze medal.
2017 SCM European Championships (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Kolesnikov had a strong meet in Copenhagen, Denmark. On the first day, he finished first in the 200 backstroke with a new World Junior and Competition Record of 1:48.02. He followed up his win a couple days later when the 17-year-old touched the wall first in the 100 backstroke with the time of 48.99. He missed the World Record by 0.07 seconds.
On the last day, Kolesnikov was the clear favorite for the 50 backstroke final after two dominating swims in the prelims and semi-finals. He broke the World Junior Record but lost the title to Italy’s Simone Sabbioni by 0.02 seconds. Later in the session, Kolesnikov dropped a 22.83 to better his own WJR in the 4×50 medley relay.
2018 European Championships (Glasgow, United Kingdom)
Kolesnikov’s backstroke siege continued in Glasgow, as he went 2-for-2 in the sprint backstrokes. In the 50, he made it through to the finals, where he then broke a nearly decade-old world record, touching the wall at 24.00. In the 100, he broke a world junior record in finals, touching at 52.53 for his 2nd gold of the meet. In the 200 back, he was the 3rd fastest Russian out of prelims, and therefore did not move onto the semis.
In addition to his individual races, Kliment took home 4 relay medals, including gold in the 4×100 free relay (anchoring in a team best 47.39), silver in the 4×100 medley relay (52.77 backstroke), bronze in the mixed 4×100 free relay, and silver in the mixed 4×100 medley relay.
2018 Youth Olympic Games (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Kolesnikov continued his stellar year at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, where he won a whopping 7 medals, 6 of which were gold. He made a clean sweep of the 50-100-200 backstroke and helped Russia to golds in the 4×100 free, 4×100 medley, and mixed 4×100 free relays, as well as silver in the mixed 4×100 medley relay.
2018 Short Course World Championships (Hangzhou, China)
Kolesnikov capped off 2018 with another international 7 medal performance, this time in Hangzhou. He was crowned 100 IM world champion as well as in the men’s 4×50 medley relay, where he led off in 22.77, a world junior record. He also won relay medals as part of the 4×50 and 4×100 free relays (silver in both), 4×100 medley relay (silver), and the mixed 4×50 medley relay (bronze). He touched for another bronze individually in the 100 backstroke.
2018 World Male Swimmer of the Year
Kliment Kolesnikov wrapped up the 2018 season by earning Swammy Awards for not only the World Junior Swimmer of the Year and European Swimmer of the Year awards, but the overall World Male Swimmer of the Year honor as well.
2019 World Championships (Gwangju, South Korea)
Kolesnikov started his world championships in the men’s 4×100 free relay, where he split 47.50 on the 3rd leg to help Russia get a silver medal. After placing 9th (53.44) in the 100 backstroke, Kolesnikov was back in the 50, winning his first individual worlds medal of his career as he touched in 3rd with a time of 24.51.
Kolesnikov finished his program in the prelims of the 4×100 medley relay, splitting 53.75 on the lead off leg to help Russia get a spot in the final, where they would go on to win bronze.
2021 European Championships (Budapest, Hungary)
Kolesnikov started hot at the Euro champs, winning the 50 back in world-record fashion (23.80) and the 100 free in a championship record time (47.37). Although he missed the final of the 100 back, he led off Russia’s 4th place mixed medley relay (52.09) and 2nd place medley relay (52.13) in times that would have won the event by well over half a second. He also anchored Russia’s 400 free relay in 47.1 to help them take gold.
2020 Olympic Games
Although Kolesnikov had a strong start in the 100 back prelims and semi-finals, just after the 100 back semi-final he anchored Russia’s relay in 48.4, touching the wall in 7th. However, he was back the next finals session for the 100 back final, where he placed 2nd behind his countryman Evgeny Rylov, making a 1-2 sweep for Russia with Kolesnikov earning his first Olympic medal.
Kolesnikov was back in the 100 free, moving through prelims and breaking a European record (47.11) in semis to earn first seed headed into finals. In the final, Kolesnikov touched for 3rd behind Dressel and Chalmers, earning individual bronze.
2021 Short Course World Championships (Abu Dhabi, UAE)
At his 2nd SC World Champs, Kolesnikov once again earned a major medal haul, garnering 4 golds, 1 silver and 1 bronze. He defended his title in the 100 IM (51.09) and helped Russia defend their title in the 4×450 medley relay, as well as win the 4×100 free relay. He also won the 50 back (22.66), touched 2nd in the 100 back (49.46), and helped Russia to bronze in the 4×100 medley.