Rowdy Gaines

Rowdy Gaines

Rowdy Gaines
Rowdy Gaines in 1983
Personal information
Full name Ambrose Gaines, IV
Nickname(s) "Rowdy"
National team  United States
Born (1959-02-17) February 17, 1959
Winter Haven, Florida
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight 161 lb (73 kg)
Sport Swimming
Strokes Freestyle
College team Auburn University

Ambrose "Rowdy" Gaines, IV (born February 17, 1959) is an American former competition swimmer, U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame member, three-time Olympic gold medalist, and member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. He is currently the chief fundraiser for USA Swimming as well as a swimming analyst for television networks ESPN and NBC including coverage of the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics and the London 2012 Summer Olympics.[1]


  • Biography 1
  • Awards 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Bibliography 5
  • External links 6


Born in Winter Haven, Florida, Gaines unsuccessfully tried other sports during his teen-age years but turned to swimming as a Winter Haven High School junior where he improved quickly and was offered a swimming scholarship to Auburn University. At Auburn he became a five-time NCAA champion under the training of former Auburn head swimming coach Richard Quick. From 1978 to 1984, Gaines set ten world records, and had the United States not boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, he would have been a favorite to win multiple medals at the event. After graduating from Auburn in 1981, he stopped swimming for several months, thinking he had missed his opportunity to be an Olympic medalist, but was urged to resume swimming by his father. When Gaines qualified at the 1984 Olympic trials, his times were not particularly impressive and he was not expected to place at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California. He won the 100 meter freestyle off a very good start and swam the anchor leg for both the winning U.S. teams in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay and 4×100-meter medley relay.[2]

In August 1991, Gaines was temporarily paralyzed with Guillain-Barré syndrome. After a two-month hospitalization, he experienced a surprising full recovery attributed largely to his superb physical condition as a competitive swimmer. He eventually regained world-class times and, at the age of 35, became the oldest swimmer to qualify for the trials for the 1996 Summer Olympics. Ultimately, he chose not to compete in the trials for the 1996 Olympics but instead continued his career as a television commentator, covering swimming for NBC at the Games.

Gaines was Outreach Director for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in Birmingham, Alabama from 1997 until 2003 when he moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado to become the Chief Fund-raising and Alumni Officer for USA Swimming. In December 2007, Gaines became a spokesperson for Limu, a direct sales company which produces a line of energy drinks.

Gaines still holds masters long course world records in several freestyle events. At the 2011 Short Course Masters Nationals, Gaines broke his own national record in the 50–54 division 50 yard freestyle (21.36),[3] notable in that he did the swim without the use of a technical suit (now banned). On July 16, 2011, Gaines broke the 50–54 Age Group record in the long course 100m freestyle with a time of 54.6.[4] Gaines currently resides in Lake Mary, Florida where he is Executive Director of Rowdy's Kidz, a charitable program sponsored by LIMU, The Company. His wife, Judy, and he have four daughters: Emily, Madison, Savanna and Isabelle.

Gaines is also a member of the board of directors of Photetica,[5] a low level laser based medical technology company based in Austin, Texas.[6] Photetica is in the clinical trial stage in oncology research.[7]


  • International Swimming Hall of Fame[8]
  • U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame
  • Alabama Sports Hall of Fame
  • Florida Sports Hall of Fame[9]
  • 1982 McDonalds Spirit Award[9]
  • 2007 NCAA Silver Anniversary Award[9]

Southeast Conference Athlete of the year 1981

See also


  1. ^ Frager, Ray (July 2008) Medium Well: Your NBC Olympics lineup – A blog on sports media, news and networks at the Wayback Machine (archived August 20, 2008).
  2. ^ Rowdy Gaines.
  3. ^ Results at the Wayback Machine (archived May 4, 2011). 2011 Spring National Championships.
  4. ^ Keith, Braden (July 16, 2011). "In Briefs: Rowdy Gaines Breaks Masters World Record in Japan | SwimmersCircle | Where Swimmers, Coaches and Fans Belong". SwimmersCircle. 
  5. ^ [3]
  6. ^ [4]
  7. ^ Rowdy Gaines
  8. ^ International Swimming Hall of Fame, Honorees, Rowdy Gaines (USA). Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  9. ^ a b c "Former Auburn Swimmers Denniston and Gaines Receive NCAA Awards". Auburn University Athletic Department. January 7, 2007. Retrieved January 8, 2007. 


  • Caraccioli, Jerry, & Tom Caraccioli, Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games, New Chapter Press, Washington, D.C. (2009). ISBN 978-0-942257-54-0.
  • De George, Matthew, Pooling Talent: Swimming's Greatest Teams, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, Maryland (2014). ISBN 978-1-4422-3701-8.

External links

  • Rowdy Gaines Official Bio at the Wayback Machine (archived May 23, 2009)
  • Gaines' Sports Illustrated 50th Anniversary essay

Preceded by
Chris Cavanaugh
Men's 50-meter freestyle
world record-holder (long course)

April 10, 1980 – April 10, 1980
Succeeded by
Bruce Stahl
Preceded by
Jonty Skinner
Men's 100-meter freestyle
world record-holder (long course)

April 3, 1981 – August 6, 1985
Succeeded by
Matt Biondi
Preceded by
Swimming World
World Swimmer of the Year

Succeeded by
Alex Baumann