Olympic Medalist Vladimir Morozov Announces Retirement From Professional Swimming

Russian Olympic medalist Vladimir Morozov announced his retirement from professional swimming at age 31 in a recent interview with Match TV.

The former world record holder said “really wanted to swim at least to Paris,” but “factors that I could not control intervened.”

Morozov hasn’t competed since the 2021 Short Course Championships, where he placed 17th in the 50 freestyle (21.54) while also helping Russia set a meet record in the 200 medley relay. Russian and Belarusian swimmers were banned from international competition a couple months later after the Ukrainian invasion took place in February of 2022. Morozov indicated World Aquatics recently granted him neutral status, but said that now “it’s a bit late.”

“I always had a goal to swim before the Games in Los Angeles,” Morozov said. “When you are young, when there are results, it seems that it will always be like this. But first there was Covid, then other events, because of which our athletes are not allowed. And age has made it clear that everything is good, we need to call it a day. I really wanted to swim at least to Paris, although the results in 2020 and 2021 were average, far from the level at which I am used to performing. Well, then it was not just my decision—factors that I could not control intervened.”

Morozov moved from Siberia to Los Angeles at 14 years old and made a name for himself at Torrance High. As a senior, the 6-foot-1 sprint specialist took down national high school records in the SCY 50 free (19.43) and 100 free (42.87).

Morozov stayed nearby for his college career at USC, breaking school records in the 50 free and 100 free as a freshman en route to Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year honors. He placed 2nd in the 50 free behind Cal’s Nathan Adrian at the 2011 Pac-10 Championships before claiming the Trojans’ first 50 free crown since 1996 the following season. As a junior at the 2013 NCAA Championships, Morozov swept national titles in the 50 free and 100 free while also becoming the first swimmer ever to clock a sub-18 second 50 free split with a time of 17.86 on the third leg of USC’s 200 free relay. He turned pro after the meet, forgoing his final year of collegiate eligibility.

At the London 2012 Olympics, Morozov split 47.85 on the third leg of Russia’s 400 free relay as the quartet captured a bronze medal in 3:11.41. He followed up that performance with his first world titles later that year in the SCM 50 free (20.55) and 100 free (45.65), beating Olympic champion Florent Manaudou along the way. At the 2013 World Championships, Morozov earned a runner-up finish in the 50 free (21.47) behind world record holder Cesar Cielo — his only individual LCM Worlds medal.

Morozov’s career wasn’t without controversy. His name appeared on a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report of “disappearing positives,” but his ban was later lifted just in time to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympics, where Russians were booed by the Estadio Aquatico Olympico crowd. Their 400 free relay missed the podium with a 4th-place finish.

Morozov broke his first world record right after the Rio 2016 Olympics at the 2016 World Cup stop in Chartres, France, blazing a 50.60 100 IM to erase Markus Deibler‘s standard of 50.66 from the books. He lowered his record by a few tenths the next week at the World Cup stop in Berlin with a personal-best 50.30. Morozov capped off his year with seven medals (five golds) at the 2016 Short Course World Championships.

Morozov lowered his 100 IM world record to 50.26 during the 2018 World Cup Series, hitting that time twice at the September stop in Eindhoven and the November stop in Tokyo. That record stood for two years until Caeleb Dressel broke it during the 2020 ISL season. Morozov spent the 2019 season with Team Iron before joining the Tokyo Frog Kings in 2020.

After barely missing the LCM 50 free podium at the 2019 World Championships (21.53), he placed 16th at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics. He felt “ashamed” about his performance in Tokyo and aimed to bounce back at the Paris Olympics this summer, but found it difficult to remain in peak racing shape without the ability to compete internationally.

“There was no longer any opportunity to compete internationally,” Morozov said. “In my position, when you live in America, to fly to Russia and compete only at this level after three Olympics and so many world championships… It didn’t appeal to me at all.”

Morozov now coaches dozens of swimmers and triathletes in the Los Angeles area. Looking back, he said he has no regrets about his career — except for maybe just one.

“Today there is no sadness, no regret, when you have such a long career, when you have achieved a lot at the international level over these ten years,” Morozov said. “Over such a long career, anything can happen, and this is what happened ( laughs ). No regrets. The only thing, maybe, when I was 24-25 years old, it was worth going more to training camps in different countries, with different coaches – in Australia, Europe, to gain experience and knowledge. Now many leaders in world swimming are doing just that. I didn’t do that. I flew from Dave Salo to Viktor Borisovich Avdienko, and the maximum knowledge I took from them was my maximum. It was necessary to expand my knowledge in swimming. I should have taken more consultations from different coaches, except that I regret it a little.”

Morozov ends his career with 109 World Cup victories in total, the third-most ever behind Katinka Hosszu and Chad le Clos.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Emma Eckeon
1 month ago

I love Vlad. Always smiling even when he lost. Super versatile in short course swimming every stroke. Even in long course you could see him winning medals at European Championships in the 50 backstroke.
A true sprint king.
I hope he comes back for LA.

My two favorite moments from him were the first 17 in yards and probably the first time (and only so far) that a guy had the guts to do the first 50 of a 100 free final under 22 seconds in a world championship. WOW…he was crazy but to that you have to have some big b****!

1 month ago

that 17 relay split is often overshadowed by Dressel, let us not forget how legendary this man was, inside the NCAA and internationally

Big Al
1 month ago

Legendary turn ‘n burn in ’13 at Barcelona world champs!

Joel Lin
1 month ago

Plainly disappointing Morozov simply stated “factors” as the attribution to being unable to compete in Paris.

He’s unable to compete in Paris because his home country is engaged in a genocidal war upon Ukraine.

1 month ago

Bad drug cheat

1 month ago

He swam club for Swim Torrance not “for himself.” There were coaches and teammates there that were part of his journey.

Reply to  Coach
1 month ago

Sometimes I wonder if people like you would punch yourselves in the face if you had to listen to yourselves outloud.

Like is your great contribution to the world being pedantic? Try harder.

Nick the biased aussie
1 month ago

Enhanced Games incoming???

1 month ago

I wonder if he will post a comeback for LA. I’m guessing they will host trials there maybe he will will give it a shot to make team USA or at least swim a big meet in LA.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

Read More »