Vladimir Salnikov

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameVladimir Valeryevich•Salnikov
Used nameVladimir•Salnikov
Original nameВладимир Валерьевич•Сальников
Born21 May 1960 in St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg (RUS)
Measurements181 cm / 74 kg
AffiliationsZenit Leningrad/SKA Leningrad
NOC Soviet Union
Nationality Russian Federation
Medals OG
Gold 4
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 4


In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Vladimir Salnikov was considered the greatest long-distance swimmer of his era, and some consider him the greatest ever. During his career Salnikov competed at three Olympic Games, three World Championships and three European Championships. Salnikov made his international début at the 1976 Olympics, when he was 16-years-old, placing fifth in the 1,500. At the 1980 Olympics Salnikov won gold medals in the 400 and 1,500 freestyles (with the first ever sub-15 minute time) and the 4x200 free relay. He remained the world’s greatest long distance swimmer, but the Soviet boycott of the 1984 Games denied him the opportunity of further Olympic honors that year. He returned from near retirement, however, to win a stunning victory in the 1,500 freestyle at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, when nobody considered him a favorite for any medal.

At the World Championships Salnikov won the 400 and 1,500 in both 1978 and 1982. He also added two silver medals in the 4x200 freestyle relay at those championships. Salnikov competed at the World Championships for a third time in 1986 but, already 26-years-old, his best years were behind him and he had to settle for fourth place in the 1,500 and fifth in the 400. At the European Championships Salnikov won the 400 in 1983, the 1,500 in 1977, 1981 and 1983 and the 4x100 and 4x200 freestyle relay in 1981. Between 1979 and 1986 Salnikov set 13 world records, six at 400 metres (3:51.41/1979, 3:51.40/1979, 3:51.20/1980, 3:49.57/1982, 3:49.57/1982 and 3:48.32/1983), four at 800 metres (7:56.49/1979, 7:52.83/1982, 7:52.23/1983 and 7:50.64/1986), and three at 1,500 metres (14:58.27/1980, 14:56.35/1982 and 14:54.76/1983). Salnikov also won 20 Soviet titles: nine in the 400 (1979, 1981-88), 10 in the 1,500 (1978, 1979, 1981-88) and one in the 4x200 freestyle relay (1979).

Salnikov retired from competitive swimming after the 1988 Olympics. From 1989-90 he was the head coach of the Soviet national swimming team and, from 1989-91, he was vice-president of the Soviet Swimming Federation. From 1991-2001 Salnikov was deputy to the general director of company Olimp and worked as a Speedo representative in Russia. Salnikov was a member of the Soviet Olympic Committee from 1984-90 and a member of the International Swimming Federation’s (FINA) Athletes’ Commission from 1991-2000. In 2009 Salnikov was elected president of the Russian Swimming Federation.

Personal Best: 400 m freestyle – 3:48.32 (1983); 800 m freestyle – 7:50.64 (1986); 1,500 m freestyle – 14:54.76 (1983).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal Nationality As
1976 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) URS RUS Vladimir Salnikov
400 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) 19
1,500 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) 5
1980 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) URS RUS Vladimir Salnikov
400 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
1,500 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
4 × 200 metres Freestyle Relay, Men (Olympic) Soviet Union 1 Gold
1988 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) URS RUS Vladimir Salnikov
1,500 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold

Special Notes