“I Have to Pinch Myself Sometimes”: Rowdy Gaines’ Exclusive Interview With Growing Bolder

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“I’m more comfortable being in the water than on the land,” Rowdy Gaines tells Growing Bolder in an exclusive sit-down interview, shortly after the world premiere of the new film ROWDY. “People ask me all the time, ‘if you could pick one reason why you won a gold medal in the Olympics, what would be that one main reason?’ and I always tell them…really, it’s because I love swimming. I love to swim. I’ve always loved to swim.”

That passion is at the heart of ROWDY, which is produced by television veteran Hannah Storm and her company Brainstormin’ Productions.

(Storm’s husband Dan Hicks is Rowdy’s broadcast partner — they’re the longest-running broadcast team in U.S. Olympic history!)

Growing Bolder joined Rowdy to talk about the film, which premieres on Monday, July 16th at 7 p.m. ET on SEC Network, as part of ESPN Films’ SEC Storied series.

ROWDY includes the story of Rowdy’s initial attempts (and failures!) at several different sports, before he found swimming. It includes his heart-wrenching experience training for and ultimately, not taking part in the 1980 Olympics, thanks to the U.S. boycott, as well as his Olympic comeback and triumph. It details his work as an international ambassador for the sport of swimming (he’s known as the “Voice of Swimming” and hosts meets and swimming events for athletes of all ages and skill levels).

And it takes viewers through his battle with Guillain-Barré syndrome and the emotional loss of his college and Olympic coach Richard Quick, who died from incurable brain cancer shortly after his diagnosis.

What’s the film’s takeaway? Rowdy says he wants people to stay dedicated to their goals, whatever they are, and remember that life is full of peaks and valleys — try to live through the valleys to get through the peaks.

ROWDY premieres on Monday, July 16th at 7 p.m. ET on SEC Network, as part of ESPN Films’ SEC Storied series.