Interview: Lenny Krayzelburg – Olympian and Gold Medalist

What an awesome two weeks at TGR. Last week we caught up with Jason Lezak and now fellow Olympic Gold Medal swimmer Lenny Krayzelburg. Both are a part of new experience. A little background on Krayzelburg “Lenny Krayzelburg was born in Odessa, the Soviet Union. After spending his boyhood years in what is now the Ukraine, his family immigrated to the United States to escape Soviet Jewish anti-Semitism and the call of the Soviet army, settling in a Soviet Jewish enclave in Los Angeles. Lenny’s story is the ultimate success story: the immigrant who came to a new land, worked hard, overcame obstacles and found exactly what he hoped to find, the American Dream. Krayzelburg is a four-time Olympic gold medalist in swimming. He won his first gold medals in each of the three events he swam at the 2000 Olympic Games––100-Meter Backstroke, 200-Meter Backstroke and 4×100-Meter Medley Relay. He established new Olympic records in the 100m—53.72, and 200m—1:56.76. And, his lead leg set the pace for the 400m Relay gold medal victory that set a new World record––3:33.73.”


1) What was it like competing in the Olympics?

Competing in the Olympic games was the most incredible experience I have ever had in my life. To know that you are good enough and you worked hard enough to compete against the greatest athletes in the world at the greatest sporting event in the world, it was a humbling and life long memory I will never forget. In addition, winning four Gold Medals at the Olympic games was beyond anything I have been able to put into words. Knowing you are on top of the world, knowing it took a lot of hard work, sacrifice and commitment and so many people played a large role and for it to come together at the most incredible event in the world; it is something I cherish and honor for the rest of my life.

2) What was the highlight of your career?

The highlight of my career was, of course, winning the Olympic Gold Medal, but there were so many other incredible moments leading up to the Olympics that really stand out for me. And although the Olympics are the pinnacle of the sport, there are of course smaller victories along the way to get to the the Olympics. These are just as important in your success. I can tell you breaking three world records in 1999 at the Pan Pacific Championships was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. And that will stick with me as much as the Olympic Gold Medals.

3) Swimming seems to be a sport that Jews have done very well at (Mark Spitz, Jason Lezek, Dana Torres). Are you ever in touch with your fellow Jewish swimmers?

Jews in swimming is more about quality than quantity. We haven’t had many but the few that have had tremendous success. Anthony Ervin is another who won a medal in the 50 free style in the 2000 Olympics. I stay in touch with Jason on a regular basis, other than that I see Mark or Dara at certain events for Olympians or swimming community, so we do come across each other.

4) What have you been up to since your Olympic days?

Check out the new project both Jason and I are working on.

5) How impressive is what Michael Phelps has been able to accomplish?

Michael Phelps is definitely the greatest swimmer of all-time. You can make an argument he is the greatest athlete of all-time. And not just because of his accomplishments or the number of medals he has won, but the strong minded athlete that he is. To be able to perform at the highest level with so many expectations on you, over and over, that is the most impressive thing about Michael, that he has been doing it for so many years.

6) Looking back on your career; do you have any regrets?

Looking back on my career the only thing I really regret was that I wasn’t able to stay healthy throughout my whole career. I ran into a string of injuries after the 2000 Sydney games that never stopped. Starting with a shoulder injury, knee injury and then another shoulder injury, all of which required surgery. Every time I needed to start over to make it to the top. Injuries held me back from maximizing my full potential.

Thank you to Lenny! And swimmers check out his amazing new program!


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