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One of the leaders on the American national team, Anthony Ervin’s two part career has seen him participate in two Olympics 12 years apart, tie for an individual gold medal with training partner Gary Hall Jr., and more recently, placing 5th at the London Games in the 50m freestyle.
Here are 8 things you might not have known about Anthony Ervin:
1. He no longer has either of his medals from the Sydney Games. He donated his gold medal for the 50m freestyle to the Red Cross Tsunami relief fund, selling it over eBay and raising just over $17,000 to a swim fan in the Philippines. The silver medal from the 4x100m freestyle was also lost during his travels.
(Editor Note: We have heard from Anthony's mom. She explained, " I have his silver medal here at home; it was never lost, have always had it (along with hundreds of school and club medals, etc.")
2. He led off the silver medal winning 4x100m free relay in Sydney, a race the Americans would not win for the first time in Olympic history. Ervin’s lead off leg of 48.89 was fast, but not as fast as Michael Klim in the lane next to him, who would break the world record in the 100m distance swimming a blistering 48.12. The American men would lose this race for the first time in Olympic history. The Australian victory was particularly sweet, not only was it done on home turf, but after the race they played some air guitar, a reference to a comment that Hall Jr. had made about how the US was going to “smash the Aussies like guitars.”
3. His favorite concert to date is seeing Jack White perform. The guitar-playing Ervin is no stranger to music, having played in a band and also offering to write supporters a custom song during his crowd-sourcing drive in 2012. He watched White play in Berkeley at the Greek, and was impressed by the intensity the rock and roller displayed in commanding a wide variety of musical instruments. During his time off, Ervin graduated from the angry hip hop of his youth to rock & roll– “it was angst-ridden punk or country blues or romance-and-ballads-type stuff.” (For a better look at what Ervin listens to, here is his playlist on Rhapsody.)
4. Ervin was put into swimming because he was a brat. A self-described “trouble maker, disobedient, (with) no discipline,” Ervin was placed into the sport of swimming as a child with the hopes that he would channel his energy and aggression into something productive.
5. He broke Matt Biondi’s American record in the 100m freestyle. In the year following Sydney, Ervin had arguably his best international showing of his career, winning the 50m and 100m freestyle at the 2001 FINA World Championships in Fukuoka. In the 100, an event he’d placed 5th in at US Trials the year before, he would beat Pieter van den Hoogenband and Ian Thorpe to improve on Biondi’s mark in 48.33. At those World Champs Ervin would be one of the few bright spots for the American men, with the Australian men riding the momentum of a solid Sydney performance to sweep all of the relays.
6. He has Tourettes. As a teenager, just before he was to start high school, Ervin was diagnosed with Tourettes. He would be prescribed tranquilizers, which still didn’t slow down Ervin from becoming one of the top ranked high school swimmers in the country.
7. He’s got some DJ’ing skills. Ben Lovett, the keyboard player for the multi-platinum selling band Mumford & Sons, started Communion Presents, a regular club night in London prior to hitting worldwide popularity with Mumford. With the band on break, Lovett brought the club night state-side for a 9-city tour in October of 2013. The first stop, in New York City at Rockwood Music Hall, included one certain Olympic swimmer filling a guest DJ slot. During his set Ervin played tracks by Empire of the Sun, Arcade Fire, and The Strokes.
8. He split back-to-back 47’s last summer at Worlds. Although the Americans would come up just short in winning gold in the 4×100 freestyle relay, Ervin swam absolutely out of his mind in his two relay swims. In the morning he was the fastest of the American men, swimming a 47.3 to secure himself a place in the final. That night, swimming the third leg – which would be blazing fast with Vlad Morozov (47.40), France’s Fabien Gilot (46.9) and Italy’s Marco Orsi (47.25) also in the pool– Ervin would again swim well below his best time of 48.33 by posting a 47.44. To give you some perspective on just what kind of speed he has, his split for the first 50m in the final was a 21.76.