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Different Strokes

American freestyle swimming champion Anthony Ervin has had an incredible journey to winning his two Olympic gold medals, 16 years apart. He shares insights on his remarkable comeback

Photo: Harvest Sky and UC Berkeley CAL

What was the most difficult period during that time?
Letting what I believed were other people’s expectations prevent me from moving forward on my own path.

Who inspired you to get back in the pool again?
Cal (California Golden Bears) coach Teri McKeever was instrumental in teasing me back into being a competitive swimmer. Also, watching my alma mater win the US national swimming college championships for the first time in 30 years inspired me.

What was the most challenging thing about returning to competitive swimming?
That’s hard to say. Probably challenges that arise that have nothing to do with competitive swimming. Or injuries. Yes, injuries are brutal on a competitor’s sense of self-worth.

How important is it for you to share your life experience with children and young people?
I hope that young people can learn from my story the lessons I learned through difficult experience. That way they can pursue other experiences and challenges, which are not barriers to success, although success isn’t always what you’d expect it to be.

You’ve had many interests over the years, from music to teaching swimming. What are you most passionate about these days?
Learning and teaching about sports and the human body. Travelling the world and meeting people from different places and cultures. Following a path where I know I haven’t yet fulfilled my potential. And of course, caring for and loving my family.


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