Story last updated at 5/9/2012 - 1:16 pm
JUNEAU - Rowdy Gaines is the third of three featured speakers in The Juneau Glacier Valley Rotary 20th Anniversary of the Pillars of America Speaker Series.
Gaines will be speaking on May 9 at Centennial Hall.
Though Gaines did not start swimming until he was 17, he was offered a swimming scholarship to Auburn University.
After breaking 11 world swimming records, he was favored to win four gold medals in the 1980 Summer Olympics. While disappointed by the country's decision to boycott the Olympics, he supported President Jimmy Carter's decision.
Gaines graduated from Auburn in 1981, assuming his swimming career was over. However, at his father's urging, Gaines entered the 1984 Olympic trials at the age of 25, and he qualified for the U.S. team in three events. Gaines won a gold medal in the 100 meter freestyle and he anchored both the 400 meter freestyle relay and the 400 medley relay teams, which also received Gold medals.
In 1991, Rowdy was afflicted with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that paralyzes the entire nervous system. After miraculously making a full recovery, he began to swim again and made a comeback, ranked in the top 10 in the world in several freestyle events. As the oldest swimmer - at age 35 - to qualify for the 1996 Olympic trials, he decided not to compete and became NBC's Olympic Games swimming commentator.
Gaines is a member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and will be broadcasting the swimming events at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
For more information contact Ellen Walker at 723-9908 or firstname.lastname@example.org.