9 Facts About Olympic Swimmer and Commentator Rowdy Gaines

While you’re probably most familiar with the voice of Rowdy Gaines from his Olympic swimming commentary, Rowdy has been actively involved in the world of swimming since the age of 17. Having won three Olympic gold medals in swimming, Rowdy Gains continues to share his love of swimming to this day by commentating, public speaking, and occasionally hopping back in the pool.

Here are 9 interesting facts about the legendary Olympic swimmer and swimming commentator Rowdy Gaines.

Rowdy Gaines facts

1. His Real Name Is Not Rowdy

Rowdy’s actual name is Ambrose Gaines IV. His father gave him his nickname which was taken from Rawhide, a popular TV show at the time of his birth. Rowdy Yates, played by Clint Eastwood, stared aside of Eric Fleming in this western that aired from 1959 to 1965. Rowdy was born February 17, 1959.

2. Rowdy Didn’t Start Swimming Until 17

At an age where most rising swimmers have been competing for close to a decade, Rowdy first gave swimming a shot. At the relatively old age of 17 after figuring out that he wasn’t cut out for football, Rowdy began swimming, and quickly excelled at it.

3. Gaines Swam in College At Auburn University

Rowdy Gaines was recruited for a swimming scholarship at Auburn University under coach Richard Quick. By the time he graduated college in 1981, Rowdy was a five time NCAA champion and 22 time NCAA All-American.

4. A Boycott Prevented Gaines From Swimming in His First Olympics

The infamous 1980 Summer Olympics boycott occurred at an inopportune time for Rowdy. In probably what was his peak physical fitness, Rowdy wasn’t able to compete at the 1980 Moscow Olympics due to this international boycott.

5. Rowdy Gaines Won 3 Olympic Gold Medals in 1984

After qualifying for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Rowdy went on to win gold in the 100 meter freestyle. In addition, he also won two gold medals as the anchor for team USA in the 4×100 meter freestyle relay and 4×100 meter medley relay.

6. Guillain-Barré Syndrome Temporarily Paralyzed Gaines

A rare disorder called Guillain-Barré syndrome temporarily paralyzed Rowdy Gaines when he was 31 years old. Thanks to his optimal physical condition, Gaines miraculously made a full recovery after spending two months in the hospital.

7. Gaines Was the Oldest Swimmer to Qualify for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics

Although he was the oldest swimmer to qualify for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta at the age of 35, Rowdy Gaines decided against competing. Rather than swimming in Atlanta, Rowdy swapped out his cap and goggles for a broadcast headset and instead commentated swimming for NBC.

For a full list of Gaines’s swimming accomplishments and much more, head on over to his personal website at rowdygaines.com.

8. Rowdy Has Covered Swimming At Every Olympic Since 1996

Rowdy Gaines is now a famous swimming commentator and has announced swimming at every summer Olympics since 1992.

  • 1992 Barcelona
  • 1996 Atlanta
  • 2000 Sydney
  • 2004 Athens
  • 2008 Beijing
  • 2012 London
  • 2016 Rio de Janeiro

Without a doubt, we are all going to enjoy Rowdy’s awesome swimming commentary in Tokyo at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.

9. Rowdy Frequently Commentates Swimming on NBC and ESPN

 

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Golden girl 🏆🇺🇸 @kledecky with @danhicksnbc and me in the booth. #kazan2015

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Rowdy has commentated swimming and other events for major broadcast networks such as NBC, ESPN, CBS, and TNT. You can frequently see Rowdy announcing swimming on television channels such as the Olympic Channel, NBC Sports Network, and some ESPN channels.


As a former Division I NCAA swimmer, I enjoy writing about the topic of competitive swimming. Check out some of these other swimming blog posts, and let me know what your favorite Rowdy Gaines moment is in the comments below. Mine is most definitely Dan Hicks and his commentary during the 2008 Beijing Olympics where Jason Lezak has an epic comeback to beat France in the men’s 4×100 freestyle relay. Rowdy and Dan go crazy to say the least.

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