Israeli Olympian Denis Loktev Verbally Commits to Louisville Cardinals

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Israeli Olympian Denis Loktev, who set Israel’s 200 free record while leading off its 4×200 relay team last month, announced his verbal commitment to the University of Louisville Cardinals today.

I’m excited to announce that I plan to continue my academic and athletic career as a student-athlete at the University of Louisville! I want to thank everyone who has supported my journey to get to this point and I’m excited for the next chapter in my career. GO CARDS! 🔴⚫️

Loktev confirmed that he plans on joining the team sometime around the end of this December, which is a fairly common timeline for international recruits. Loktev is primarily a freestyler who seems to be best at the 100 and 200 distances, but his converted times suggest he could end up making an impact in either the 50 free or the 500 free.

Here’s a look at Loktev’s best times in long course and short course, with approximate yards conversions for each course as well.

Best Times (LCM)

  • 50m free – 23.09 (19.77)
  • 100m free – 49.42 (42.49)
  • 200m free – 1:46.64 (1:31.84)
  • 400m free – 3:51.45 (4:15.05 – 500 yard free)

Best Time (SCM)

  • 50m free – 22.49 (20.24)
  • 100m free – 48.15 (43.16)
  • 200m free – 1:44.64 (1:34.46)
  • 400m free – 3:45.13 (4:17.86 – 500 yard free)

Loktev led off Israel’s 4×200 free relay in prelims at the Olympics, clocking a 1:46.64 that set a new Israeli national record He also swam the 200 free individually, placing 27th in prelims with a 1:47.68.

Louisville doesn’t have any ranked domestic recruits coming in this fall that we know of, but Brazil’s Murilo Sartori, who split 1:46.09 on the second leg of Brazil’s 4×200 relay in the Olympic finals, committed for this fall, and he and Loktev could provide a big boost the Cardinals’ already-strong relays.

The Cardinals are returning all four legs of their NCAA 8th-place 800 free relay, but Loktev and Sartori could still find themselves on that relay, depending on how quickly they adapt to short course yards. He could also provide additional flexibility and depth on the 200 and 400 free relays.

Joao de Lucca won Louisville’s first NCAA title in swimming in the 200 free in 2013 and repeated a year later in 2014. He was, essentially, the swimmer who put the Cardinals on the proverbial NCAA map, and that’s the same specialty as Loktev.

Additionally, Loktev clearly has the potential to be a big scorer at ACCs for the Cardinals, who won their first team title in 2021, ending NC State’s six-year streak. Loktev’s converted times would roughly put him in the C-final of the 50 free, the A- or the B-final of the 100 free, the A-final of the 200 free, and the A- or the B-final of the 500 free, making him a potential 50-75 point scorer.

Loktev joins Louisville’s incoming class of freshmen that includes which includes Tommy Bried, Ryan HoganEli ShoyatJohn BosslerLuke Shourds, Gustavo Saldo, and Owen Taylor.

If you have a commitment to report, please send an email with a photo (landscape, or horizontal, looks best) and a quote to [email protected].

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2 months ago

2 incoming freshmen that go 1:46 LC. Throw in Albiero who has put up 1:31 and if one other can pop a 1:32 they might have a legit shot at the 800 relay.

Reply to  Thisguy
2 months ago

Nah, Kibler/Carrozza/Larson/Foster is the favorite by a clear mile given the improvement curves of the four, but I could see them upsetting Cal.

Reply to  Thisguy
2 months ago

Colton Paulson has been poppin’ off 1:32s inside relays since his freshman year, not to say that a bunch of others won’t improve and claim a spot. Cards are looking angry!

Reply to  Thisguy
2 months ago

Albiero and his team will show him the way

2 months ago


2 months ago

2022 NCAAs going to be so deep, it seems like every day we keep hearing about a big name

Yee Yee
2 months ago

i hear the lane lines in louisville are great for pulling

Reply to  Yee Yee
2 months ago

This is THAT guy?

Reply to  Bogo
2 months ago

Yes, if you click on his name in red at the top, the article comes up and you can double check yourself

2 months ago

21 yo freshman. Me thinks will be gone 2024

Reply to  Doconc
2 months ago

Israeli swimmers have to complete mandatory military service before they can come over to swim. There are oodles of Israeli swimmers currently in the NCAA who had this path.

2 months ago

Right, there’s an exception in NCAA rules for military service time.

2 months ago


Jim john
2 months ago

21 year old freshman, nice………….

Reply to  Jim john
2 months ago

Hes 21 because all isrealis have a 2 and a half years of mandatory military service when they turn 18..

Reply to  Yjswimmer
2 months ago

This guy probabaly had a long in swimming terms layoff

Chineeese boy
2 months ago

I thought he verbally commited to the lane rope