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United States of AmericaUnited States of America, USA


Further Personal Information

Date of birth
26 May 1981
One daughter [2016]
Athlete, Author, Coach
Higher education
Cultural Studies, Education, Sport Studies - University of California: Berkeley, CA, USA

Sport Specific Information

When and where did you begin this sport?
He began swimming before he reached age 12 months. His parents later enrolled him in a swimming club when he started kindergarten.
Why this sport?
He displayed several behavioural problems as a child so his parents encouraged him to begin swimming in the hope that he would channel his energy in the water.
Club / Team
Team Elite: Charlotte, NC, USA
Name of coach
David Marsh [personal], USA

General Interest

Tony (, 01 Jul 2012)
Travelling, music, tattoos, teaching people about swimming, karaoke, video games, playing the guitar, DJing. (, 24 Apr 2016;, 09 Feb 2016)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"Winning can be a terrible thing that happens to you. It can completely intoxicate you. It can derail you and you may distort your values and principles" (, 01 Oct 2018)
Awards and honours
He won the 2016 Perseverance Award at USA Swimming's Golden Goggles Awards. (, 22 Nov 2016)

In 2001 he was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. (, 09 Feb 2016)
At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro he became the oldest swimmer to win the 50m freestyle at an Olympic Games when he claimed gold at age 35 years and 78 days. (SportsDeskOnline, 01 May 2020)

At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney he became the youngest swimmer to win the 50m freestyle at an Olympic Games when he claimed gold at age 19 years and 119 days. (SportsDeskOnline, 01 May 2020)
To compete at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. (, 01 Oct 2018;, 16 Aug 2017)
Other information
He hopes to continue swimming through to the US Olympic Trials in 2020, when he will be age 39. "I want to make my way to the end of the quad [four-year cycle] just so I can see those guys off. I think that's a special thing if I can be in the [US Olympic Trials] final to shake their hand - whoever does go [to the Olympics]. And I want to believe the contributions I can still make are not necessarily going to be from swimming as fast as I can, but maybe just from the human-to-human level. Perhaps I can contribute in the leadership sense. Being on the pool deck, and being in the pool, is a way that I can do that." (, 29 Jul 2018)

He says the use of the Swedish Kistler computer and video performance analysis system, introduced by coach David Marsh in May 2016, had a dramatic impact on his swimming. "There was a eureka moment. I was able to see my weakness and where I was losing my energy. My start [to a race] has always been my Achilles heel, but I was able to identify the problem and solve it in less than an hour. After that, my start was fixed - from being one of the worst." (, 22 Nov 2017)

He believes growing up with Tourettes syndrome has been a benefit during his sporting career, especially when dealing with nerves on the starting blocks. "When I was with those seven other guys in an Olympic final and they're all freaking out and thinking about how they're being viewed and gazed upon by all these people back in their countries - all these people around the world - with me, I knew what these jitters were. I was very familiar with them. I didn't need to be thrust on such a big stage in order to feel that anxiety. It's something that I coped with daily as a youth, so I felt a little more comfortable in that environment. And I really think that gave me a particular kind of edge when competing on that kind of a stage." (, 06 Jun 2017)

He announced his retirement from swimming in 2003 at age 22. Having returned to the University of California, Berkeley, to finish his college degree and then started a master's degree in sport, culture and education, he got back into swimming after a college assignment in 2010/11. He was asked to write about his relationship to sport, which inspired him to return to the pool. "I wrote that paper about my life in sport and there was an immediate catharsis and desire to reclaim my body. After the final paper, I smoked my last cigarette and with no intention of being a competitor, turned all the energy to the pool." (, 22 Nov 2017;, 09 Feb 2016; Cal Alumni Association, Summer 2012)

His autobiography, 'Chasing Water: Elegy of an Olympian' was published in April 2016 and won the International Swimming Hall of Fame's Buck Dawson Award. (, 22 May 2018;, 28 Mar 2016)

In 2019 he began studying at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College in the United States of America. (, 16 Jan 2019)