Semyon Belits-Geiman

Semyon Viktorovich Belits-Geiman (born 16 February 1945) is a former Soviet freestyle swimmer.[1] He set a world record in the 800 m freestyle, and won two Olympic medals.

Semyon Belits-Geiman
Semyon Belits-Geiman in 1966
Personal information
Full nameSemyon Viktorovich Belits-Geiman
Born (1945-02-16) 16 February 1945
Height6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight161 lb (73 kg)
ClubDynamo Moscow

Early life

Belits-Geiman is Jewish and was born in Moscow,[2][3][4] where he attended the Transport Engineering Institute,[5] studied journalism, and worked as a journalist for the magazines Sports Life in Russia and Soviet Sport.[6]

Swimming career

Belits-Geiman began swimming when he was eight.[3] He was affiliated with the Moscow club Dynamo, and became a member of the Soviet swimming team in 1962.[3][7] He competed at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, and finished in seventh place in the 4 × 200 m freestyle relay and eighth in the 400 meter freestyle.[7]

At the 1965 Summer Universiade, he won the gold medal in the 400 m freestyle and three silver medals in the 1,500 m and relay races.[3] In 1965, his time in the 1,500 m was the second-fastest in the world (17:01.90).[3][8]

In 1966, he won the gold medal against three of the best American freestyle swimmers in a US vs USSR competition in Moscow.[3] That year at the European championships, he won gold medals in the 1,500 m freestyle (16:58.5) and 4 × 200 m freestyle relay (8:00.2) and a silver medal in the 400 m freestyle (4:13.2; behind German Frank Wiegand, and ahead of Frenchman Alain Mosconi).[3][9] In 1966, he was ranked number three in the world in the 1,500-meter freestyle.[3]

On 8 March 1966, he set a world record in the 800 m freestyle, at 8:47.4, in Budapest.[1][10][11][12] That was 4.1 seconds faster than the former record set by Australian Murray Rose in 1962.[5][13]

At the 1967 Universiade in Tokyo, he won a silver medal in the 1,500 m freestyle, behind American Mike Burton.[8]

He won a silver medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City in the 4×100 freestyle relay (3:34.2), swimming the lead leg, and a bronze medal in the 4 × 200 m freestyle relay (8:01.6), swimming the second leg.[1][2][3] In the 4 × 200 m relay, one of his teammates was Vladimir Bure.[3] He also swam two individual freestyle events, finishing seventh in the 200 m freestyle, and ninth in the 400 m race.[3] He broke 67 Soviet national freestyle records.[3] In 1974, he was named president of the Moscow Swim Federation and vice president of the Soviet Union Federation.[3]

Post-swimming career

Later in his life he competed in cross-country skiing and speed skating, and became a Soviet Master of Sport and coach in both disciplines.[1][3]

Beginning in the early 1980s, he developed training programs for figure skaters.[3][14] He created a program to increase coordination and flexibility which was used by Australian ice dancing champions Natalie Buck and Trent Nelson-Bond in the early 2000s.[15]


In 2017 he was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.[16]


He met his wife, Russian ice dancing coach and former competitive ice dancer Natalia Dubova, when he covered one of her competitions as a sportswriter.[14][15] In 1999, they moved to Stamford, Connecticut.[17]

See also


  1. Paul Taylor (2004). Jews and the Olympic Games: the clash between sport and politics: with a complete review of Jewish Olympic medalists. Sussex Academic Press. Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  2. Bob Wechsler (2008). Day by day in Jewish sports history. Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  3. "Belits-Geiman, Semyon". Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  4. "Jewish Olympic Medalists". Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  5. "A Roundup Of The Sports Information Of The Week". Sports Illustrated. August 15, 1966. Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  6. "Белиц-Гейман Семен". Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  7. "Semyon Belits-Geyman Biography and Olympic Results". Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  8. Ralph Hickok (January 16, 2010). "World University Games Men's Swimming Medalists". Archived from the original on December 9, 2012. Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  9. Todor Krastev (December 18, 2010). "Swimming 11th European Championship 1966 Utrecht (NED)". Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  10. "Suited for Swimming". Boys' Life. July 1967. Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  11. "Aussie Bests Swim Mark". Spokane Daily Chronicle. January 16, 1967. Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  12. "Burton Sets 2 World Marks". The Telegraph-Herald. August 31, 1967. Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  13. "Rose's Swim Record Falls to Russian". The Sydney Morning Herald. August 4, 1966. Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  14. Judy Wells (April 30, 2000). "Famed skating coach takes to the ice with local talent". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  15. "Australian Dancers Flourish Under Dubova". Golden Skate. November 1, 2003. Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  16. Harold Davis (September 20, 2009). "From Russia with love: Olympic champ and wife still live sporting life in Stamford". Connecticut Post. Retrieved August 2, 2011.
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