Rowdy Gaines (USA)
Honor Swimmer (1995)
FOR THE RECORD: 1984 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (100m freestyle, 4x100m medley relay, 4x100m freestyle relay); 8 WORLD RECORDS: (1-100m freestyle, 2-200m freestyle, 2-4x100m freestyle relay, 3-4x100m medley relay); 1978 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (4x100m freestyle relay, 4x200m freestyle relay), silver (200m freestyle); 1982 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (4x100m medley relay, 4x100m freestyle relay), silver (100m, 200m freestyle); 1979 PAN AMERICAN GAMES: gold (200m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle relay, 4x200m freestyle relay); 1983 PAN AMERICAN GAMES: gold (100m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle relay, 4x100m medley relay, 4x200m freestyle relay), bronze (200m freestyle); 17 U.S. NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: 9 Outdoor, 8 Indoor; 8 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS: 50 yd, 100yd, 200yd freestyle; 400m, 800m freestyle relays.
Rowdy Gaines was named after the rambunctious western her in the television series “Rawhide.” He is described by his merits for being “rapidly successful, competitive, and very, very fast” and feels more at home in the water than on land. He has broken eight world records and continues to swim today.
Rowdy loved the water as a child, but did not begin his notorious swimming career until the late age of 17 with a 16th place finish in the Florida High School Championship. The following year, Rowdy came back to win the State championships and quickly developed into a world class contender when he placed second in the 200m freestyle at the World Championships in 1989. Rowdy was recruited to Auburn University where he stroked to American records in the 100 and 200 yard freestyles and to the world record in the 200m freestyle in 1:49.16. By 1980, he was named “World Swimmer of the Year.”
It was at the pinnacle of his swimming career that he suffered a tremendous disappointment when the 1980 US Olympic Team boycotted the Olympic Games. Shortly thereafter, he retired, only to return with a vengeance a year and a half later, determined to regain his place in the swimming world and claim the medals he was unable to obtain in 1980.
Rowdy had no problem grasping three Olympic gold medals amidst roaring fans who believed in the “old man” of the 1984 Olympics. Rowdy’s crowning moments of capturing gold by winning the 100m freestyle and the 4×100 medley and freestyle relays will remain sacred to him and his fans.
Throughout his memorable career, Rowdy won three Olympic gold medals, set eight world records, won seven World Championship medals, not to mention numerous medals in the Pan American Games, US National Championships, and NCAA Championships.
Since his retirement, Rowdy has been asked to endorse many products, has been a swimming commentator for CNN, ABC, and NBC, and has written articles for the FINA Swimming and Diving Magazine. Today, Rowdy lives in Hawaii with his wife Judy and their three children. He manages a health and fitness center, coaches swimming and continues to feel at home in the water swimming in a Masters program.