The great Russian Swimmer, Evgeny Sadovyi, will return to the pool in Barcelona after more than 20 years since swimming in the 1992 Olympic Games. This time, however, he will not be in the pool. As was caught by one of our eagle-eyed readers, KethM, Sadovyi will be poolside with the 35 other officials selected to judge the World Championship Meet.
In 1992, Sadovyi won three gold medals in the 200m freestyle, 400m freestyle, and 4x200m freestyle relay. He also broke two world records in the 400m freestyle and the 4x200m freestyle relay.
His time in the 200m freestyle was 1:46.70 and his time in the 400m freestyle was 3:45.00. Even today, his 400m freestyle would stand as the third fastest in 2013. As we’ve seen global times explode, that sort of longevity of history is impressive. Sadovyi was a member of “The Unified Team” which consisted of 12 of the 15 former Soviet Republics.
Sadovyi is most recognized for his win in the 400m freestyle. He upset the world record holder from Australia, Kieren Perkins, breaking Perkins’ record by 1.47 seconds and touching out him out for the win by .16 seconds, in the infancy of the Australian greats career. The pair both were well under that World Record, which Perkins would end up breaking at the World Championships two years later, making this at the time one of the more impressive head-to-head slugfests in swimming history.
Our own Mel Stewart was another one of the stars of those games, winning the gold medal in the 200 fly individually, as a part of the American 400 medley relay, and took a bronze in the 800 free relay behind Sadovyi’s winning anchor leg.
“I watched every stroke of that race,” Mel said of the race 20 years ago. “The 400 free at the ’92 Games was one of those races where your jaw goes slack at the speed, at the splits. You’re certain they can’t hold on, that the piano will fall any second. The Unified Team, so new, was a riding a high and it seemed the entire world was pulling for Sadovyi. He is a swimming legend, and Perkins owes Sadovyi some credit for pushing him to new levels at the begining of his distance reign.”
The pool won’t be the same as the one used for the Olympics (swimming this year is in the Palau Saint Jordi), but there’s a certain special congruity to returning to the place where he first made a name for himself and really helped push the concept of the new era of Soviet-Russian identity forward with his success in the pool.