World Champion Mike Alexandrov Announces Retirement from Swimming

32-year old breaststroker Mike Alexandrov has retired from competitive swimming. The Sofia, Bulgaria-born swimmer swam collegiately at Northwestern and swam for his native country at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. In 2009, he changed his sporting citizenship to the United States, and while he never qualified for the Olympics for Team USA, he did represent the country at multiple international competitions – including winning gold medals at the 2010 and 2012 World Short Course Championships.

International Medal Record:

  • 2007 European SC Championships – bronze, 100 breaststroke & 200 breaststroke (Bulgaria)
  • 2010 World SC Championships – gold, 400 medley relay (USA)
  • 2012 World SC Championships – gold, 400 medley relay (USA)
  • 2013 World University Games (Summer Universiade) – silver, 100 breaststroke; bronze, 400 medley relay (USA)

Alexandrov became a fixture at major American meets – he showed up to compete more reliably at in-season meets than most elites did. At the 2012 Olympic Trials, he finished 6th in the 100 breaststroke. Last year, he came in just 49th in that same event.

Alexandrov’s first big splash as an American came in one of the more bizarre record-breaking scenarios on the books. In March of 2007, he swam a 51.56 in the 100 yard breaststroke. Because of USA Swimming rules at the time that only required a swimmer to have American citizenship to be eligible to break American Records (he had already gained his dual citizenship), he was credited with the mark in spite of going on to compete for Bulgaria at the 2008 Olympics. These rules have since changed, but Alexandrov fell through that loophole before it was closed. Kevin Cordes broke the record in 2012.

Outside of the pool, Alexandrov was part of a group that in the early part of this decade were on the leading edge of the creation of unique and creative swimming content. That includes the 2011 hit “Splash On ‘Em.”

Below, read Alexandrov’s retirement announcement in its entirety.

Through accomplishments and struggles for constant improvement in your competitive career, there comes the time in every swimmer’s life, when they get to face the inevitable moment of saying goodbye to the sport as they know it.  As I am hanging up my competitive swimming gear, I have to acknowledge that it brings all kinds of emotions. Among all of the them I want to emphasize on how grateful I am to the sport and to all of the people, swimmers, and coaches that have supported me through the twenty years of my competitive swimming career.

I want to take this moment to express my gratitude and appreciation to my parents, Plamen and Kalinka, who without their support and continuous motivation, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve the level of success on the national and/or the international level. The coaches throughout my career that I will always be forever grateful for and that have led me to places and successes I could never have accomplished on my own, respectively since childhood are: Marni Tobin, Erich O’Donnell, Frank Sampson, Sergio Lopez, Bob Groseth, Greg Troy, Frank Busch, Greg Rhodenbaugh, Dave Salo, and Jon Urbanchek.
I would like to thank USA Swimming for all the support and opportunity I was given while on and off the National Team. Representing my birth country, Bulgaria from 2002-2008 gave me an opportunity to give back to the country that raised my mother and father, and began my swimming career. The transfer of Sport Citizenship nearly a decade ago gave me an opportunity to represent my new home, the United States, and gave me many opportunities to grow both mentally and physically, which I am forever grateful for.
Towards the end of my competitive athletic endeavors, it has been challenging to let go of the ‘once was’ and process the idea that ‘once upon a time’ will never come again. Not striving to reach a ‘best time’ in my swimming events is something that took me a while to let go and face the inevitable physical aging process of the athlete. I have also found it very humbling and it has taught me a lot about myself as well. I hope to send a message to all swimmers out there, who are at a crossroads of their swimming career: the most important thing I have learned at the end of this journey is to maintain a balanced lifestyle between the sport, education, diet, and one’s own personal growth and development. The swimmer has to understand and define their boundaries in terms of what decisions will help and what decisions will hinder their successes in/out of the pool. At the end of the day, my failures are the reason I have have had some success in the sport. I have gotten back up on my two feet, showed up, gave it my best, learned to let go of the past, and always tried to set new goals, grow each practice, every day, every week. Positive, healthy consistency is a great recipe for reaching one’s peak potential. To all the swimmers out there, I urge you to constantly define your goals, understand what steps are necessary to accomplish them, keep striving for best version of yourself, and stay positive in and out of the pool!
-Mike Alexandrov


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4 years ago

Congratulations on a wonderful career, Mr. Alexandrov! Thank you for representing the USA so well!

4 years ago

The Bulgarian Bullet rides off into the sunset.

4 years ago

I like Mike Alexandrov. He is a class act. And remember how great he was at the 400 IM?

Reply to  ATM
4 years ago

heard he cheated on his fiance… not that classy

Reply to  Josh
4 years ago

Times & places, times & places.

4 years ago

When was the last time Alexandrov made the USA National Team?

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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