Gennadi Touretski, Legendary Coach of Alexander Popov, Dies at Age 71

by Spencer Penland 14

August 07th, 2020 International, News

Famous swim coach Gennadi Touretski has died just weeks after his 71st birthday.

Touretski had a stroke, and was subsequently put into a medically induced coma, but never recovered.

Touretski, who was born in the Soviet Union, but later moved to Australia and became an Australian citizen, was most famous as coach of the Alexander Popov, also known as “The Russian Rocket.” Popov was a 4-time Olympic gold medalist, and 5-time Olympic silver medalist. In his career, he set World Records in both the 50 and 100 meter freestyles in both short course and long course meters. The longest of those records was the 100 free in short course, which stood for more than 10 years until Ian Crocker broke it in 2004.

Touretski began coaching Popov in Russia, and upon his move to Australia in 1992, both Popov and fellow Russian Vlad Pyshnenko followed him.

During his tenure at the Australian Institute of Sport, Touretski also famously coached Australian star Michael Klim. Klim was a 6-time Olympic medalist while under Touretski’s direction.

“Gennadi Touretski took me under his wing and created what I am right now,” said Vlad Pyshnenko, one of his former athletes and the current head senior coach of the CATS Aquatic Team in Illinois. “He was like a second father to me. Me and Alex (Popov) stayed in his house while training in Australian Institute of Sport. If not for him, I would have been done with my swimming carrier in 1994, after a biking accident.”I’ve learn a lot from him. And not only swimming knowledge. I even think that I have good taste in music because of him.”

Toureski also coached Australian Matthew Dunn, an 8-time World Champion in short course and three-time Olympian, World Champion Ray Hass, and World Championship silver medalist Clementine Stoney.

Touretski made news back in 2011, when it was announced that he would be taking over as the coach of freestyle legend Ian Thorpe, who was coming out of retirement to train with Touretski. For a time, Touretski also coached his daughter, Sasha, in Switzerland. For her part, Alexandra made the Swiss Olympic team for the 2016 Olympics, competing on the Swiss women’s 4×100 free relay.

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1 year ago

One of the best sprint partnerships in history. There is no Popov without Touretski. Rest in Peace

1 year ago


Jay Fitzgerald
1 year ago

Gennadi was a good friend and a great coach! We met at the European Championships and I invited him to bring his team to the Santa Clara International meet. Gennadi did bring his team over and there were some exciting races with Popov, Jager, and Biondi, as well as several other athletes. It was fun to talk swimming with him and I met Sergi Marniuk through Gennadi. Sergi later swam for Santa Clara Swim Club and was a great leader for our training group. Many happy memories of Gennadi and his swimmers we had some fun times.

Vlad Pyshnenko
Reply to  Jay Fitzgerald
1 year ago

Hello Jay, we had great times and fast swims at all your meets. Fun memories 👍👍👍 I still have a lot of pictures.

Rafael Domeyko
Reply to  Jay Fitzgerald
1 year ago

It was the summer of 91 when Gennadi and the Russian swim team arrived at Santa Clara Swim Club. The team as well and Jay Fitzgerald welcomed them as team families opened their doors to the international athletes for the entire summer. So many stories of the camaraderie with our Russian guests, including a group of over 60 athletes attending the premier of Terminator 2 at the Winchester Theaters during the Santa Clara International Invitational. So many amazing races by Marniuk, Popov, Jager, Biondi and others leading up to the 92 Olympics. Gennadi had the uncanny ability to identify stroke deficiencies like no one else. My condolences to the family.

Vlad Pyshnenko
Reply to  Rafael Domeyko
1 year ago

It was my first movie in English 🙂
I didn’t understand one word! But it was great!

Brad Flood
1 year ago

God Speed Gennadi Touretski. One of the Greats indeed, A Legend in his own time.

Miss M
1 year ago

He shaped Australian swimming – Nicole Livingstone and Sarah Ryan also swam with Touretski.

Condolences to his family.

Corn Pop
Reply to  Miss M
1 year ago

He only took on girls who did not f**** cry .

1 year ago

Great coach but sadly tainted by the steroid saga !

Reply to  Gheko
1 year ago

Can we show some decency here?
A father and friend have died, keep your judgment or whatever bitterness you have for another day.

Reply to  Olympian
1 year ago

I don’t think his comment shows “bitterness.” It is the fact and an asterisk on his career. That does not diminish his contributions to swimming. I love watching Touretski’s videos. I still go swimming with my kids and you can bet I say at least once “kayak” during our swims. That and pushing for slow swimming – minimum strokes per lap.

Brad Flood
Reply to  PsychoDad
1 year ago

To swim fast; one must swim slow!!!

1 year ago

A true legend, the philosopher of swimming who shaped a generation.