The first names that come to mind when discussing American swimming will forever be Michael Phelps and Mark Spitz.
Phelps and Spitz swam like fish in the pool and became two of the greatest Olympians to ever do it in the process. Rowdy Gaines may not have been as fast as these guys. In fact, only dolphins may be, but he wasn't too shabby in the water himself and is multi-talented.
Gaines has been a swimming analyst for NBC for 20-plus years. A career spent entirely by the pool has paid well.
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Ambrose "Rowdy" Gaines IV date of birth is February 17, 1959. He was born in Winter Haven, Florida. For all of the zodiac sign enthusiasts out there, Gaines birth sign is Aquarius (fitting considering the symbol is a water-bearer).
Gaines started swimming competitively as a junior at West Haven High School. The late start didn't affect his progression. Two seasons as a competitive swimmer is all it took to land a scholarship to Auburn University. The water wizard won eight NCAA championships in Alabama.
Rowdy rapidly rose to the world stage, breaking multiple world records by the time the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow rolled around. He was expected to easily medal in numerous events, but the United States boycotted due to political turmoil.
The boycott didn't slow Gaines down. He bounced back at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles with three gold medals in the 100-meter freestyle, 400-meter freestyle relay and the 400-meter medley relay.
Gaines was diagnosed with a life-threatening neurological order that prevented the three-time Olympic gold medalist from competing in 1988 in 1992. He was able to fight the disease and make a comeback for the 1996 games in Atlanta, where he became the oldest swimmer to qualify at 35. However, Gaines decided to hang up the cap and goggles to get his first taste in broadcasting.
He was honored in retirement as a member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and Florida Sports Hall of Fame.
His career was documented on ESPN's "SEC Storied" series in 2018.
Gaines has contributed to Olympic swimming coverage for NBC during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 2012 London Olympics, 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Phelps is joining him on the call in Japan.
"The reason why I keep doing the broadcast and NBC hires me, is the fact that I really show my passion," Gaines told TMJ4.
The famous swimmer has been called "Swimming's Greatest Ambassador" in his post-athletic career. That isn't a nickname they hand out lightly.
Rowdy and his wife Judy Gaines reside back in his home state of Florida. They share four daughters named Emily, Madison, Savanna and Isabelle.
In 2018, Rowdy was the target of scammers who claimed they had kidnapped his daughter Madison. He received a call saying his daughter was being held hostage, and he needed to pay a ransom. Madison was also called and was told there was a warrant out for her arrest. Madison chronicled it in a video posted to Facebook.
"I am so embarrassed about this as I'm the first one to hang up on scams but this was an entirely new level because the call came from daughters phone," Rowdy Gaines wrote on his Facebook page. "And if you're a parent I think you know what I mean. The hackers obviously were able to do that."
Rowdy Gaines Net Worth
Rowdy Gaines' estimated net worth is between $1 million and $5 million, according to reports. The USA swimming legend has been able to collect a fine stack of cash over the course of his career.
More importantly, he's one of the most beloved people in the sport.
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