Swimming broadcaster Gaines ignores critics, plans to keep screaming

Rowdy Gaines
NBC’s swimming commentator Rowdy Gaines is perhaps better known for his on-air screams during Olympic races than his three gold medals.

He became a lightning rod of controversy during Michael Phelps’ historic eight gold medals during the Beijing Games, as critics complained that several of his on-air calls became outright shouts. Gaines told SBJ that he’s heard the criticism, but he won’t apologize for his enthusiasm.

“I’m still calling a race like I’m sitting in my living room, yelling and screaming like a little girl,” Gaines said Wednesday afternoon at a Citi sponsor event in London. “I get criticized for that a lot. People can question my knowledge of the sport. A lot of people know more about swimming than I do. But you can’t deny my passion.”

Gaines, a three-time gold-medalist at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, said he’s reluctantly watched video of the races from Beijing.

“I’m totally embarrassed. I hate watching me. I can’t stand it,” he said. “My wife says the same thing when I watch the Winter Olympics from home: ‘Shut up.’ I’m a fan of swimming. I get that excited about all of the athletes that we get to know.”

Gaines says he has no interest in expanding his broadcasting chops beyond swimming.

“I’m not interested in being a broadcaster (of other sports). I love swimming,” he said. “This may be my last Olympics. I don’t know. I hope not.”

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