Denis Pankratov was the world’s best butterfly swimmer in the mid-1990s. He placed only sixth in the 200 fly at his first international appearance, the 1992 Olympics, but in 1993, at the European Championships in Sheffield, Pankratov won his first international medals, gold medals in the 200 butterfly and medley relay and a silver in the 100 fly. He improved this performance at the 1995 European Championships, winning all three gold medals and breaking Pablo Morales nine-year-old 100 metre butterfly world record with a time of 52.32. Pankratov had swum his first world record a month before the 1995 European Championships in 200 butterfly, recording 1:55.22 in France and that world record stood for over five years until Tom Malchow broke it in 2000. At the 1994 World Championships in Rome, Pankratov won gold in the 200 butterfly, silvers in both the medley and 4×200 freestyle relay and bronze in the 100 fly. But Pankratov’s greatest performance probably occurred at the 1996 Olympics, where he won both butterfly events and silver in the medley relay and set his third and final world record by clocking 52.27 in the 100 butterfly final. Pankratov was named as the male World Swimmer of the Year by Swimming World magazine in 1995 and 1996 and was named as the male European Swimmer of the Year in the same years. Pankratov continued to swim after the 1996 Olympics, but at a lesser level, and never again medaled in a major international tournament. He retired from sports in 2002, and is married to Olha Kyrychenko, who won bronze in the medley relay at the 1992 Olympics.
Personal Bests: 100 m butterfly – 52.27 (1996); 200 m butterfly – 1:55.22 (1995).