Alena Popchanka (born 28 July 1979 in Gomel, Belarus)[2] is a 4-time Olympic freestyle and butterfly swimmer originally from Belarus. She swam for Belarus at the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympics. At the 2008 Olympics she swam for France; after her marriage to Frenchman Frédéric Vergnoux in early 2005.[3]

Alena Popchanka
Personal information
Full nameAlena Popchanka
Nationality France (2005-on)
 Belarus (pre-2005)
Born (1979-07-28) 28 July 1979 (age 40)
Gomel, Belarus
Height1.76 m (5 ft 9 in)

Popchanka won the 200 m freestyle at the 2003 World Championships and won the 200 m freestyle again at the 2006 Short Course European Championships.

She married Vergnoux, her coach, in early 2005, and became a French citizen a few months following the marriage (June). In November 2005, Popchanka was cleared to swim internationally for France, following a 1-year sit-out from competition which was not waived by the Belorussian federation following her departure and last swim for Belarus at the 2004 Olympics.[3] Because of this timing, Popchanka was unable to swim at the 2005 World Championships to defend her 200 m freestyle title from 2003.

Since November 2005, she has competed for France. Leading up to the 2008 Olympics, the couple lived in Edinburgh, Scotland, where Vergnoux coached from 2004-2008. Following the 2008 Olympics, Vergnoux and Popchanka moved back to France, after Vergnoux left his coaching job in Edinburgh for one in Paris.[4]

Vergnoux is notable in his own right: during his time in Edinburgh, he was twice named British Coach of the Year.[4] He also served on the British Olympic Team staff for the 2008 Olympics.


  1. ^ "12th FINA World Championships". Archived from the original on 2007-06-06. Retrieved 2007-06-09.
  2. ^ Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill. "Yelena Popchenko". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2009-07-21.
  3. ^ a b Popchanka Can Begin Representing France in November Archived 2012-08-25 at the Wayback Machine, published by Swimming World Magazine online on 2005-06-02; retrieved 2009-07-21
  4. ^ a b Swimming gets a boost at Lagardère Paris Racing, Lagardère Press Release, published 2008-06-13; retrieved 2009-07-21.

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