Igor Polyansky, who was one of the most dominant male backstroke swimmers of the World in the second half of the 1980s, took up swimming in 1978 and made the Soviet national team in 1985. He came into prominence in March 1985 when he swam a 200 metre backstroke world record of 1:58.14 that would stand for six years. In 1985 he also won both backstrokes at both the European Championships and the Universiade. At the 1986 World Championships Polyansky won three medals, gold in the 100/200 backstrokes and bronze in the medley relay. The 1987 European Championships were less successful for Polyansky, as he won only gold in the medley relay and silver in the 200 backstroke, but he returned stronger than ever in 1988. First, before the 1988 Olympics, in March and then in July, he set three 100 metre backstroke World records (55.17, 55.16, 55.00) and went to the Games as a favorite for the two backstroke gold medals. At the Olympics, Polyansky won the 200 back easily but, two days later, was upset by Daichi Suzuki and Dave Berkoff in the 100 final and had to settle for a bronze medal. He also added a bronze in the medley relay. In 1989 Polyansky competed at the European Championships, but finished only fifth in 100 m backstroke and retired in the next season. Domestically, Polyansky won six Soviet titles: 100 back – 1988; 200 back – 1983/86/88; and 1985 and 1986 in the medley relay. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Polyansky emigrated to Auckland, New Zealand where he ran a swimming school.
Personal Best: 100 m backstroke – 55.00 (1988); 200 m backstroke – 1:58.14 (1987).