London 2012 Golden Bears Olympians: Anthony Ervin, 50 Free Swimming, USA

Anthony Ervin has returned to swimming and the Olympics, a decade later.

The feel good story of the US Swim trial, Anthony Ervin is again an Olympian. After winning a gold medal in the 50 freestyle at the 2000 Olympics, Tony (his preferred name to friends) retired in 2003 (after the end of his Cal career) when he was 22 years old to explore "other interests".

After joining a rock band in New York and various other youthful exploits (that some articles try to make a bigger deal than others), he eventually found himself teaching swimming to kids in both New York City and Oakland. Last year he began training again, and qualified for London by finishing second in the 50 free (by narrowly edging out fellow Cal bear, Nathan Adrian). Between his colorful sleeve tattoos and a more slender body type, Anthony stands out in the pool.

Also of note, Anthony auctioned off his 2000 Olympic gold medal on eBay to aid survivors of the 2004 tsunami. Anthony did eventual finish his Cal degree in English in 2010 and is now currently in the Cal graduate program for sport, culture and education.

Let's learn more about Anthony after the jump.

  • Twitter: @AnthonyErvin
  • Event: 50 freestyle
  • 2nd time Olympian (In Sydney 2000 Olympics won gold in 50 Free and silver in 4x100 Free relay)
  • Cal career: 1999-2002
  • A great sentimental comeback story (which NBC will surely milk in the Olympics), Anthony won a gold back in 2000 and proceed to take almost a decade off from swimming. After teaching kids to swim an year ago, Ervin decided to make a comeback and was able to finish second in 50 Free (narrowly edging out Nathan Adrian by 8/100th of a second).

Here is Anthony at the US Swim Trial press conference (representing with a Cal shirt!):

Another interesting (and more concise) interview of Anthony (answering why he came back, how it's different this time around):

Anthony's slightly different training method/mentality is nicely explained in this USA Swimming article here. Interestingly, the article also conjectured about the success of Cal swimming:

Cal Swimming has long been at the forefront of alternative training approaches. Which could explain why they are – and have been -- so successful. Their two most individualistic and strongest personalities, Ervin and 29-year-old Natalie Coughlin, are also two of the sports most inventive, innovative thinkers. They tinker. They ask. They learn. They reflect. It’s no secret they both are still involved in the sport at an age once considered "ancient."

Read more about Anthony in this SFGate article here.

Grantland has the following interesting short blurb about him:

Enigmatic 31-year-old who won gold and silver in Sydney, retired from swimming in 2003 at age 22, and sold his gold medal to raise money for the Indian Ocean tsunami relief. (Lost his silver medal during his notoriously nomadic travels.) Returned to competition last year. Has such poor eyesight that a competitor had to tell him he had qualified; when Brendan Hansen congratulated him afterward he squinted and responded, "Who is that?" Speaks in full paragraphs, but also says things like "I just want to keep this fun train chugging."

It does look like Anthony Ervin is enjoying competitive swimming again (and possibly even more this second time around). He looks to be in a good mental state. Best of luck to him in making it back to the pinnacle of competitive swimming again.

Go Anthony and GO BEARS!

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