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article imageMeet Rowdy Gaines: Olympic gold medalist and swimming analyst Special

By Markos Papadatos     Mar 23, 2019 in Sports
Ambrose "Rowdy" Gaines is a living legend in the sport of swimming. A three-time Olympic gold medalist, Rowdy Gaines chatted with this journalist about his career in the sport and his latest endeavors.
The world's most decorated Olympic swimmer, Michael Phelps, once said: "We are lucky to have somebody like Rowdy." "There's no better person that's going to help continue to change the sport, but him," Phelps added.
Gaines is an inductee of the International Swimming Hall of Fame and the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. "They were both a huge honor. I am a student of the history of the sport," he said.
"When I first started out, the 1976 Men's Swimming Team were my heroes. That was the greatest Olympic team in history. They won 12 out of the 13 gold medals. They were really good. Most of those guys are in the Hall of Fame, so to be around them and to be a part of that history is something I am really proud of. It was pretty humbling," he explained.
At the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Gaines took home three gold medals in the men's 100 meter freestyle race, the 4×100 meter freestyle relay, and the 4×100 meter medley. "That was awesome since I made the Team in 1980, but there was a boycott so we didn't get to go. Usually, an Olympic journey is four years long, but this one took eight years, but that made 1984 more special," he said.
Gaines serves as an ambassador for the USA Swimming Foundation. "It has been great," Gaines admitted. "We just had a little alumni gathering a while ago of all the national team alumni. It was in support of the USA Swimming Foundation. It has been a big part of my life for so long," he said.
"Our country has been No. 1 in the sport of swimming for 62 years. That's a long time," he acknowledged. "To carry on that, we need more and more kids to be able to swim and to be a part of a sport that has traditionally been so good in our country. Drowning is an epidemic in our country."
Olympic gold medalist swimmer and swimming analyst Rowdy Gaines
Olympic gold medalist swimmer and swimming analyst Rowdy Gaines
NBC Sports Group
Thanks to his illustrious contributions to the sport of swimming, Gaines was recognized with the coveted USA Swimming Award in 2015, which is the highest accolade in swimming. He holds 10 world records to his credit, and he was once described as the fastest swimmer on the planet. He has swum more than the circumference of the earth, 25,000 miles, over the course of his lifetime.
For young and aspiring swimmers, he encouraged them to be patient. "Patience is a big virtue that we need to have in swimming," he said. "We have to learn a lot about patience. You also need to have a passion for swimming because it is not an easy sport. You have to love it and enjoy what you do."
Digital transformation of aquatics
On the impact of technology on the sport of swimming, Gaines said, "The sport has changed dramatically since I swam from a nutrition standpoint, a swimsuit standpoint, a technique standpoint, and a mechanics standpoint. The biggest change of all is money since it has changed our sport more than anything else."
"Nutrition has changed a lot. We pretty much ate what we wanted to and now there is more of a regimen," he said. "The dynamics of film has changed the sport as well."
In addition, he serves as a swimming analyst for ESPN and NBC Sports. He has also been inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and the Florida Sports Hall of Fame.
On the key to longevity in swimming, Gaines said, "For me, I loved being in the water. I loved being in the water more than being on land. I loved the feeling when I swam and the feeling after I swam, and I craved that feeling. That was the key to my longevity: the fact that I loved the sport so much."
"Swimming was the only thing I was ever good at. I stunk at everything else," he said, with a laugh. "That's I swam six days a week."
He listed the following young swimmers as the "Ones to Watch" this year: Simone Manuel, Katie Ledecky, Regan Smith and Beata Nelson on the women's side, as well as Caeleb Dressel, Michael Andrew and Ryan Murphy on the men's side. "I think the U.S. Swimming Team is going to be the best again in the world," he said, and subsequently complimented Michael Andrew for being a "really good guy" that comes from a "good family."
For his fans, he said, "I am very grateful for the people that supported me, from my fans to my friends and my family. I won three gold medals, where I gave one to my mom, one to my dad and one to my coach. I couldn't have done it without them."
Gaines continued, "I always say that I wish I could have won 40 medals, where I would have given one to each of my teammates on that 1984 Olympic Swimming Team since they were all a big part of my success. It is very humbling to have that support over my swimming and broadcasting career."
He defined the word success as "doing the very best you can do." "Nobody can ever ask that you can do more than your best. Success means being the best that you can be," he said.
To learn more about Olympic gold medalist and swimming analyst Rowdy Gaines, check out his official website.
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