Serghei Mariniuc (born February 14, 1969) is a Moldovan former swimmer, who specialized in individual medley events. He represented the Unified Team and the Republic of Moldova in all three editions of the Olympic Games since 1992, and later became a top eight finalist in two individual medleys throughout his Olympic career, emerging him as the nation’s most prominent swimmer. He also captured a silver medal in the 400 m individual medley at the 1993 FINA Short Course World Championships in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. When he moved to the United States in 1993, Mariniuc trained professionally for the Santa Clara Swim Club in California until he announced his official retirement in late 2000.
Mariniuc, a native of Chişinău, Moldavian SSR, started his sporting career at the age of eight under a strict Soviet swimming system. He shortly became a member of the Moldova Swim Club under his coach Luba Pohilenco, and then officially played for the Soviet Union‘s senior national team before its complete extinction in 1991.
Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Mariniuc emerged as Moldova’s swimming sensation at every level of the competition. He made his official debut for the Unified Team, also known as the Commonwealth of Independent States, at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. While he did not win a single medal, Mariniuc successfully made the final, and finished seventh in the 400 m individual medley (4:22.93). He also posted a tenth-place time of 2:03.72 in the 200 m individual medley, trailing Spain’s overwhelming favorite Martin López-Zubero, the winner of the B-final, by 0.38 seconds.
Returning home from the Games, Mariniuc viewed his nation as “forsaken” and “hopeless”, discovering that some of the swimming pools did not have a water; others were filled with chemicals or locked. Giving up his sport to support the nation’s financial scarcity, Mariniuc worked as a part-time taxi driver riding around Chişinău‘s urban suburbs to earn sufficient rubles, Moldova’s main currency, for a living.