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Someone’s going to get rowdy with Rowdy pretty soon

November 24, 2022
By Marcy Shortuse

If you remember Rowdy Gaines, the ultimate Olympic swimmer from the 1970s and ’80s, it might excite you to know that he has a home on Little Gasparilla Island. Being the ever-charitable guy that he is, he just recently raffled off five days and four nights at the beach house to the lucky winners who plunk down enough cash.

Titled “Get Rowdy with Rowdy,” the vacation package offered by “the voice of USA Swimming” includes kayaking, paddle boarding and fishing, as well as a boat excursion to a nearby restaurant for lunch. No, they don’t mention which one. Possibly the biggest highlight of the trip was the offer to take an open water swimming excursion with Rowdy himself, weather permitting.

Just before the auction began at 10 p.m. Monday night, the bidding was up to $3,800.

The auction is part of the 2022 Golden Goggle Awards. It raises money for the USA Swimming Foundation, an initiative conceived to immerse our youth in sports and, primarily, to teach children how to swim. It also encourage children to continue on in the sport as competitors, and to possibly become champions. 

This is just one of the charitable organizations that Gaines works with. He also serves as the executive director of Rowdy’s Kidz, a wellness initiative that serves children nationwide.

Gaines, originally from Winter Haven, was born to Buddy and Jettie Gaines in 1959. By the age of 17 he decided that swimming was his sport, and he attended Auburn on a swimming scholarship. Beginning his tutelage with Richard Quick, he eventually went on to set 10 world records between 1978 and 1984, and for his time was the world record holder in the 100 and 200 meter freestyle competitions.

He began his second career, as a sportscaster, in 1996. He continues to cover swimming at the Olympic Games, and he is a sports analyst for NBC.