Boris Popov, Russian Water Polo Coach & Olympian, To Be Inducted Into International Swimming Hall of Fame

Boris Popov 2019 ISHOF honoree

Simply put, Boris Popov went from being an outstanding water polo player to an extraordinary coach whose teams dominated world water polo for over a decade.  Due to his success as a coach for the Junior Team in USSR, he was selected to lead the USSR National Senior Team.  There he lead the team to gold medals in the Olympics, European Championships, World Championships, and World Cup competitions.  He remains active in water polo still to this day developing children’s water polo in the Leningrad region.

Boris Popov will be inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2019 during the Honoree Induction ceremony in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, May 18, 2019.

Come celebrate Boris and the other honorees at the ISHOF Induction dinner.  Become an ISHOF Legacy Member and attend the ISHOF Induction Dinner for FREE.  Can’t attend the event? Please consider making a donation to ISHOF to support Boris and our other inspirational honorees.

Boris Popov 2964 USSR Tokyo

Boris as a player in 1964 USSR Tokyo; Photo Courtesy: Boris Popov

FOR THE RECORD: RUSSIAN WATER POLO COACH: 1973-2008, 2011 to the present day ; NATIONAL TEAM COACH: 1978-1993, 1997-1999, 2007-2008; 1980 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold; 1988 OLYMPIC GAMES: bronze; 1982 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold;  1986 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: bronze; 1981 WORLD CUP: gold; 1983 WORLD CUP: gold; 1987 WORLD CUP: silver; 1986 GOODWILL GAMES: gold; 1998 GOODWILL GAMES: gold; 1990 GOODWILL GAMES: silver; 1963, 1965 University games: silver; 1970, 1985 University Games: gold;  1981 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: silver; 1983 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold; 1985 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold; 1987 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold; 1991 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: bronze; 1997 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: bronze; 1964 OLYMPIC GAMES: player-bronze; 1966 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: player-gold

About Boris Popov

Popov began his playing career in Moscow at about age 14, for “CSK” Moscow.  He was part of the 1964 USSR Olympic Team when they won the bronze medal behind water polo powerhouses Yugoslavia and Hungary.  He was also part of the team that won the gold at the 1966 European Championships.

Popov played for “MGU” Moscow from 1960 through 1973, when they won the European Championship Cup.  He then gave up his water polo career as a player and began coaching for Burevestnik, Moscow.  He became Coach of the Junior Team, USSR, in 1974 and the boys brought home gold in 1975 and 1978 at the European Championships.


Photo Courtesy: Boris Popov

The Soviet Olympic Team won the 1972 gold medal in Munich, but at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games, the team placed a disappointing eighth. And for the next several years failed to reach the podium at all major international tournaments.

Popov’s success with the Junior Team was noticed and in 1979 he was selected to lead the U.S.S.R. National Senior Team.  With the core of players he developed at the Junior level, like Hall of Famers, Evgeny Sharanov, and veterans Aleksei Barkalov and Aleksandr Kabanov, Popov led his team to the gold medal in their hometown of Moscow, at the 1980 Summer Olympics.

Boris Popov Russia 80 Olympic team

1980 Russian Olympic Team; Photo Courtesy: Boris Popov

The Soviet team did not lose a game during the entire Olympic tournament at the 1980 Games. They went undefeated again at the II FINA World Cup in Long Beach, California in 1981. Won gold again at the 1982 FINA World Championship in Guayaquil and again at the 1983 FINA World Cup in Malibu, California.  Unfortunately, the world never got to see what the Soviets could do at the Los Angeles Olympic Games due to the Soviet Block’s retaliatory boycott in 1984.  However, after the 1984 Olympic Games concluded, the Soviets won the gold at a tournament in Havana, Cuba that featured the nations who boycotted the LA Games.

Because the Soviets, Hungarians and other nations had boycotted the LA Games, they were banned by FINA from the 1985 World Cup – but the Soviet success continued by winning the gold medal at the European Championships in 1985 and 1987, and at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, the team won bronze. After winning the 1989 European Championships, the team won bronze at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.

Boris Popov 1985 European Championships

Photo Courtesy: Boris Popov

In the years 1993 and 1994, Popov left Russia and went to Geece and his former player and assistant coach, Aleksandr Kabanov took over the team. But after   the Russians finished a disappointing fifth in the 1996 Atlanta Games, Popov was back in charge of the Soviet team and directed with getting the team ready for Sydney 2000.  The team placed fourth in the 1999 FINA World Cup, in Sydney, Australia.

After so much success, the failure to reach the podium in 1999 and 2000 was a major disappointment and the Russian Federation returned the reigns of the team once again to Kabanov.  But with poor results, Popov was back in charge by 2006 until he retired in 2008.

It must be said that after the break up of the Soviet Union, there was a great deal of social and economic problems that had a devastating effect on the fortunes of Russian water polo.  They are just now recovering.

Boris Popov water polo coach

Photo Courtesy: Boris Popov

Currently, Boris Popov is the Vice President of the Russian Water Polo Federation.   He is living in the city of Kirishi and devoting his time to the development of children’s water polo in the Leningrad region.

About The International Swimming Hall of Fame Induction Weekend

International Swimming Hall of Fame

The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) Induction Ceremony is shaping up to be a star-studded weekend with multiple events spread out over three days in beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Make your plans now to attend the weekend of May 17-19, 2019!  ISHOF Members can purchase the Weekend Package and Save!  Can’t attend the event? Make a donation to ISHOF to support our honorees.

This year’s International Swimming Hall of Fame honorees include Swimmers: Jason Lezak (USA), Otylia Jedrzejczak (POL), Stephanie Rice (AUS), Britta Steffen (GER); Diver: Li Ting (CHN); Water Polo Player: Alessandro Campagna (ITA); Coach: Boris Popov (RUS);  Synchronized Swimmer: Olga Sedakova (RUS); Open Water Swimmer: Marcy MacDonald (USA); Contributor: Dr. Ferenc Salamon (HUN); and Pioneer: Alfred Nakache* (FRA).  

ISHOF will also present the 2019 Gold Medallion Award to Dr. Joseph B. MacInnis (CAN).

2019 Paragon Award and ISHOF Specialty Award Recipients

  • Greg Eggert—Competitive Swimming
  • Don Holbrook—Water Polo
  • Bill Farrar—Competitive Diving
  • Igor Kartashov—Synchronized Swimming
  • Peter Davis—Aquatic Safety
  • Carvin DiGiovanni—Recreational Swimming
  • Carolyn Wood—Buck Dawson Author Award: “Tough Girl”
  • Dale Petranech—ISHOF Service Award
  • David Duda—Judge G. Harold Martin Award
  • Robert Strauss—Virginia Hunt Newman Award
  • Ruth Meyer—John K. Williams, Jr. International Adapted Aquatics Award
  • Peter Bick—Al Schoenfield Media Award
  • Jim Wood* —Lifetime Achievement Award

The Weekend Schedule

Friday, May 17th — Paragon & ISHOF Specialty Awards Night

Saturday, May 18th — Honoree Induction Day Luncheon

12-1:30 PM Luncheon ISHOF Museum

Official 55th Annual International Swimming Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

VIP Reception 6:00 PMInduction Ceremony 7:00 –10:00 PM at Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort and Spa

Sunday, May 19th — Swim Across America



  • Host Hotel: Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa

    Four and a half star upscale retreat with private beach access, two pools, four restaurants, full service spa and oceanside bar. Location
    of the Saturday evening induction ceremony. ¼ mile south of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
  • Courtyard by Marriott Fort Lauderdale Beach

    • 440 Seabreeze Blvd., Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33316 (954) 524-8733
    • Special ISHOF Guest Rate of $169 per night
    • Please call 954 524-8733 and mention Swimming Hall of Fame Honoree Ceremony for the special Rate of $169.
For more hotel or ticket Information contact Meg Keller-Marvin / 570-594-4367

* Deceased

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