Alexander Popov Dishes on Gary Hall, Jr. Rivalry & His Training Regimen on Inside With Brett Hawke

Alexander Popov 1996 Olympics by Tim Morse
Alexander Popov celebrates the 50 freestyle gold at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. Photo Courtesy: Tim Morse

Alexander Popov talked to Brett Hawke on his podcast about his successful career, where he won the 50 & 100 free at the 1992 & 1996 Olympic Games. He is regarded as one of the best sprint freestylers in history and one of the heaviest influences in sprint freestyle.

Popov, a native of Russian, had moved to Australia in 1993 with coach Gennadi Touretski and he went over how he moved to Australia and when he met the host Hawke in Australia. Popov joined Touretski in 1990 and two years later became the Olympic champion in two events. Leading into those Olympics, Popov went over some sets with how he gained the confidence to take down the almighty Matt Biondi of the United States (12:00).

Alexander Popov

Alexander Popov – Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

Alexander Popov went through his training regimen (15:56) and how his injury prevention techniques influenced the athletes at the Australian Institute of Sport. Popov was best known for his distance per stroke in sprint swimming, which was generally thought to be a tempo-driven event and he went over how he was able to master that (19:00) in his career.

He is also well known for his rivalry with American sprinter Gary Hall, Jr. and he went over the pre-meet intensity ahead of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta where he was set to clash with Hall in his home country (25:00). After Alexander Popov won the 100 freestyle in 1996, he received a telegram from the daughters of Johnny Weissmuller congratulating him on winning back to back gold medals – becoming the third man to do so in Olympic history after Duke Kahanamoku and Weissmuller. Since then, Pieter van den Hoogenband joined that club in 2004.

Popov was joined in the mid-90s by Michael Klim at the Australian Institute of Sport (39:00), who eventually took down his own world record in the 100 freestyle at the 2000 Olympic Games. Popov beat him in the 100 free final a few days later with a silver medal while Klim was fourth. Was Sydney 2000 a disappointment (47:00) for him after not winning a gold medal after being perfect in two trips to the Games? He was later able to win the 50 & 100 freestyle world titles in 2003 at the age of 31.

Popov closed the podcast by going over one of his most memorable sets in the lead-up to the 1998 World Championships (55:00)

Alexander Popov was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2009.

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  1. avatar

    Fantastic interview. Many thanks! More Popov – please.

  2. avatar
    John M Razi

    Absolutely-excellent. Usable precise-detail. “Hot Chocolate & Marshmallows”. Dynamic between ‘Popov-Hawke’ alive-making. Any lover of h2O, will glean so much ! Grateful, mega !

  3. avatar
    John M Razi

    ps : …maybe best swim-interview, I’ve ever heard or read. “..only dead people don’t get nervous.” – AP ….. that Brett Hawke trained with AP & competed head-to-head with him, a total-bonus ! Great work, great stuff ❤

  4. avatar
    Angus Waddell

    Great interview Brett, well done. As an older swimmer from 1990/92 I experienced the awesome emergence of alex in 92. Wow, what a figure. The biggest kick in the world.
    Congrats on your own swimming career. You took the 50 to another level in Australia for sure, so a big hats off there.
    I was very happy to get in , then get out fairly quickly with my swimming life. Always plenty of stories.
    Go well mate.
    Angus Waddell

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