Rowdy Gaines

Dan Hicks, Rowdy Gaines call backyard pool swim race

Leave a comment

Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines covered swimming together at the last six Olympics, including every one of Michael Phelps‘ finals, but they’ve never called a “race” quite like this.

“We heard you were looking for something to commentate during the down time….might this short short short course 100 IM help?” tweeted Cathleen Pruden, posting a video of younger sister Mary Pruden, a sophomore swimmer at Columbia University, taking individual medley strokes in what appeared to be an inflatable backyard pool.

“Hang on,” Gaines replied. “This race of the century deserves the right call. @DanHicksNBC and I are working some magic!”

Later, Hicks posted a revised video dubbed with commentary from he and Gaines.

They became the latest commentators to go beyond the booth to post calls on social media while sports are halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

NBC Sports hockey voice Doc Emrick (who has also called Olympic hockey and water polo) did play-by-play of a windshield wiper installation.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Ledecky, Manuel welcome Olympic decision after training in backyard pool

Rowdy Gaines, feeling deja vu, knows Olympic swim team will look different in 2021

Leave a comment

Rowdy Gaines knows the feeling of an Olympic dream deferred. About this time 40 years ago, Gaines was in line to go for five swimming gold medals at the Moscow Games. Then the U.S. boycott was announced.

“Little bit of deja vu,” Gaines, the longtime NBC Olympics swimming analyst, told NBC Olympics primetime host Mike Tirico shortly after the Tokyo Games were postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus. “There’s a big difference between the word boycott and postpone, but an athlete’s life, especially in our sport, comes and goes in a matter of a year or two. … It’s pretty devastating to see that a lot of kids are going to miss this opportunity this summer.”

Gaines, then 21, was at his peak in 1980, already a world-record holder and world champion. He would be 25 at the next Olympics in 1984, older than any U.S. Olympic swimmer in an individual event since 1956, according to Olympedia and the OlyMADMen.

After a brief retirement, in an era where swimmers rarely competed beyond college age, Gaines rededicated himself and won three golds at the Los Angeles Games. It was the exception, not the norm.

“Champions in our sport are the ones that can live through the valleys,” Gaines told swimmers at Auburn, his alma mater, in his SEC Network documentary, “Rowdy.” “Living through the peaks is the easy part.”

How can a single year alter swimming?

Consider that in 2000, a 15-year-old Michael Phelps placed fifth in the Sydney Olympic 200m butterfly. Phelps broke the world record six months later and lowered it again at the 2001 World Championships, winning by seven tenths of a second over the Sydney Olympic gold medalist.

In 2015, Australians Bronte CampbellMitch Larkin and Emily Seebohm each won a pair of individual world titles. At the Rio Olympics, the trio combined for one medal, Larkin’s silver, outside of the relays.

“An athlete’s life can certainly come and go in a short span,” Gaines said. “So you’re going to have an athlete that was just barely hanging on to try to get to this summer. And I’ll use a name because I think most people are going to say it: Ryan Lochte.”

Lochte, 35, is bidding to become the oldest U.S. Olympic male swimmer in an individual event in history. To make the Olympic team in his trademark event, the 200m individual medley, he may have to fend off phenoms 20-year-old Michael Andrew and 18-year-old Carson Foster.

The flip side: the recent success of Andrew and Foster is by no means assured to continue for another year. How will swimmers who have never experienced the crucible of an Olympics handle this interruption?

“The example of a very young athlete that is just hitting his or her stride; right now, perfect timing,” Gaines said. “Then, all of a sudden, a year from now, things can change emotionally and physically.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Ledecky, Manuel welcome Olympic decision after training in backyard pool

Rowdy Gaines comments on Ryan Lochte’s suspension (video)

Ryan Lochte
TODAY
Leave a comment

If Ryan Lochte is banned for the bulk of the 2017 season, including the world championships, as reports say, it might not hurt as much as another year, NBC Olympic analyst Rowdy Gaines said on TODAY on Thursday.

“It’s the year after the Olympic Games, so I think a lot of the big names are taking a year off anyway,” Gaines said.

Other top swimmers have taken the post-Olympic year off, recently Natalie Coughlin in 2009 and Michael Phelps in 2013, though Phelps retired in 2012 and came back to competition in 2014.

The 32-year-old Lochte said in Rio, before the gas-station incident, that he planned to continue swimming. If he is banned from the 2017 Worlds, he couldn’t compete in another world championships or Olympics until the summer he turns 35 in 2019.

Lochte refused to comment to media at Los Angeles International Airport overnight Wednesday to Thursday, only saying “yeah” after being asked if he learned of the news while on his flight.

Neither Lochte’s representatives nor USA Swimming or the U.S. Olympic Committee have commented on the reported suspension of 10 months plus the 2017 World Championships.

MORE: Gas station from Lochte incident now a tourist attraction