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.
During 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.