Quick Facts: Rowdy was a five-time NCAA All-American and
honored as the Southeastern Conference Athlete of the Year.
"Rowdy" Gaines was simply the fastest man in the swimming world
throughout the early 1980s, holding 11 World Records during a four-year
span. Were it not for the US Boycott of Moscow's Summer Games, Rowdy
might well have been one of America’s most famous and decorated
Olympians. At the age of 25, Gaines won three Gold Medals in the .84
Games in LA, including the 100m free in which he set a new Olympic
Record, .45 seconds shy of his own World Record. Rowdy also swam on the
Gold-Medal winning 400m free and 400m medley relays, both which set
World Records. In .84, he was named World Swimmer of the Year.
his education at Auburn, Rowdy was a five-time NCAA All-American and
honored as the Southeastern Conference Athlete of the Year. It was in
1991 that Gaines was diagnosed with Guillan-Bare Syndrome, a
neurological disorder that paralyzes the entire nervous system, and told
that even if he lived, he might never walk again. Then hospitalized for
two-1/2 months, Gaines fully recovered from the life--threatening
condition, despite no known cure. Even more astounding? Gaines was back
in the pool less than a year later and was ranked in the top ten for
several freestyle events. In 1996, at the age of 35, he was the oldest
swimmer to qualify for the Olympics. Gaines, however, chose not to
compete, as he wished to remain with his family. Instead, he became
NBC’s Olympic Games Swimming Commentator, filling that role in all
Olympics and major competitions since.
Rowdy is also a spokesperson for
The Children’s Miracle Network, HealthSouth, Disney, Rayban, Speedo, and
John Hancock ... in addition to touring the world as a motivational
speaker. He was inducted into the Swimming Hall of Fame and is active as
the Director of Outreach for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Rowdy and
his wife Judy have four daughters: Emily, Madison, Savanna and
Isabelle. In addition to serving on our advisory board and assisting in
numerous public-relations projects, Rowdy has swum with SAA since its
inception in 1987.