My Daughter’s Swim Teacher Wins Gold

In an obscure bit of life trivia, my oldest daughter briefly took swim lessons from Anthony Ervin. Anthony Ervin won the gold medal in the 50m freestyle in the 2000 Olympics.

Over the next decade, Ervin sold his gold medal, donated the money to charity, then took off on a spiritual quest. He dabbled in everything from Zen Buddhism to the hard-partying lifestyle of playing in rock bands. Instead of a pool, he sank into depression, which, at its deepest, led to a suicide attempt and a death-defying motorcycle accident. Nearing age 30, he desperately needed a shot at redemption.

“For me, getting the tattoos was a way of reclaiming my own skin, and regaining control of myself,” Ervin said.

Armed with elaborate new ink, he went back to school and started coaching at a swim camp for kids. Those kids helped him remember what he loved about swimming in the first place.

My daughter was 6 at the time, so as a teacher he was overkill, but he was nice and good with the kids.

His story is fascinating.

I remember reading in 2012 that he was trying a comeback. He made the Olympic team but didn’t win a medal. I didn’t realize he’s back again in Rio. And he won a gold medal in the 4×100 freestyle relay. That’s a 16 year gap between gold medals. And he qualified for the final in the 50m freestyle.

He’ll be the old guy at 35. He’s certainly not favored, though he was tied for second in the semi-final heats. I’ll be rooting for him.


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