Harker athletes had the unique opportunity to meet two Olympic gold medalist swimmers on Friday, when three-time gold medalist Ambrose “Rowdy” Gaines and silver and gold medalist Cullen Jones spoke to students at the Singh Aquatic Center at the upper school campus just before a USA Swimming Foundation event held at Nichols Hall.
Gaines, who won three gold medals at the 1984 summer games in Los Angeles and now works in television as a swimming commentator, shared his story of perseverance and determination. He began swimming competitively at age 17 after being denied spots on his high school football, baseball, basketball, golf and tennis teams.
“I am living proof it’s never too late to achieve your dreams,” he said, reminding students that setbacks are a part of the journey, such as when he broke a world record in 1980, only to find out the next day that the United States would be boycotting that year’s Olympic games.
Undaunted, he pressed on, practicing rigorously six days a week, winning SEC and NCAA titles and qualifying for the 1984 games, where at age 25 he became the third-oldest Olympic swimmer to date to win a gold medal.
After Gaines spoke, Jones took his turn to speak to the students about his experience at the 2012 games in London, touching on his experience staying at the Olympic Village and his daily regimen, which consisted of a near-constant cycle of training and nutritional intake.
Aside from winning the silver and gold, highlights of the London games for Cullen also included meeting athletes such as NBA stars Dwyane Wade and LeBron James as well as tennis legend Serena Williams.