2008 Olympic bronze medalist Arkady Vyatchanin has formally retired from competitive swimming. The 34 year-old had a long and somewhat nomadic career that highlighted some of the issues that pro swimmers still face, especially when it comes to international competition.
A native of Russia, Vyatchanin earned a silver medal in the 100 backstroke at the 2003 World Championships in Barcelona, and also earned medals at at the 2003, 2005, and 2007 World Championships as part of Russia’s 4×100 medley relay team. He then earned bronze medals in both backstroke events at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, as USA swimmers swept gold and silver medals in both events.
In the years that followed, Vyatchanin clashed with the Russian swimming federation over his decision to live and train in the United States under Gregg Troy, and what he calls “irreconcilable contradictions with the Federation’s officials.” Around 2013, Vyatchanin decided to try to swim for Serbia. However, he encountered difficulties switching his sporting citizenship to Serbia as he was still training in the United States, representing the New York Athletic Club.
“Of all the things I could say or have said in the past the main line stays the same – I believe that sport can be doping and politics free,” Vyatchanin said upon retirement.
During his time in the United States, Vyatchanin became a fixture on the Pro Swim Series (formerly Grand Prix) circuit, and he won both backstroke events at the 2016 U.S. Open. Vyatchanin eventually became a U.S. citizen last summer, and his times from the U.S. Open put him on the USA National Team, but he has now retired before ever getting a chance to represent the United States in international competition.
“I’m very excited for my future,” Vyatchanin concluded. “I definitely would like to share my knowledge and experience throughout the swimming community. I would like to thank Gregg Troy, his staff, NYAC and others who helped me stay on this level in sport in the last 6 and a half years.”