Yuliya Efimova is a breaststroke specialist from Russia. Efimova’s last name is a bit Romanized, so she can also be known by a last name, Yefimova. Standing 5’10” Efimova is one of the world’s most elite breaststrokers, and has been battling Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte for the world’s top breaststroke spot since Rebecca Soni’s retirement.
At a young age Efimova has already competed in two Olympic Games: Beijing and London. As just a 16-year-old swimmer, Efimova swam at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but she failed to win a medal when she finished fourth in the 100m breaststroke and fifth in the 200m. But four years later at the 2012 London Olympics, Efimova won the bronze medal in the 200m breaststroke behind the American’s Rebecca Soni.
In spring 2014, as a recent world champion, Efimova tested positive for doping in an out-of-competition test. She tested positive for the steroid, DHEA, which she says came from a supplement from a GNC store — Efimova trains at Club Trojan (USC) in Los Angeles, where she purchased the supplement.
She was slapped with a 16-month suspension for doping, after the test came back positive in fall 2013. Efimova had a potentially longer ban than 16 months, but the length made her eligible for the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, her home country. Efimova chose to not appeal the ban, stating that she knows she made a mistake.
After competing at London, Efimova trained for the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona, Spain. She won the gold in the 200m breaststroke as well as the 50m breaststroke, breaking the World Record in the 50m distance. In the 100m breaststroke, she won a silver medal behind Meilutyte, who is her biggest competition.
In Dec. 2013 she broke Rebecca Soni’s World Record in the 200m breaststroke at the European Short Course Championships. In comparing the two great swimmers, Efimova’s third 50 is what made all the difference.
After her 16-month suspension, Efimova competed at the 2015 Russian National Championships. Almost instantly her performances in the 50m and 100m breaststroke put her on top of the world rankings in the events. At the 2015 Santa Clara Grand Prix where she went 3-for-3 in the breaststroke events representing Club Trojan.
2015 World Championships
Yuliya Efimova competed at the 2015 World Championships in Kazan in her signature breaststroke events. Coming out of the semi-finals in the 50-meter breaststroke, Efimova finished third in a dead-heat of breaststroke talent – only one second divided the final eight swimmers. In the final Efimova swam nearly an identical time to grab a bronze medal in the 50-meter distance.
Efimova also competed in the 100 breast, an event that she’s been ranked high in the world rankings as of recent. Coming out of the semi-finals, she finished on top of the field just .04 seconds ahead of rival, Ruta Meilutyte. In the final of the 100-meter distance, Meilutyte decided to take the first 50 meters out fast, leaving Efimova behind by about half-a-second. That eased first 50 proved to be effective for Effimova though as Meilutyte began to drop off, and Efimova took the gold medal by nearly a second.