Anthony Ervin

Anthony Lee Ervin (born May 26, 1981) is an American competition swimmer who has won four Olympic medals and two World Championship golds. At the 2000 Summer Olympics, he won a gold medal in the men's 50-meter freestyle, and earned a silver medal as a member of the second-place United States relay team in the 4×100-meter freestyle event. He was the second swimmer of African descent after Anthony Nesty of Suriname to win an individual gold medal in Olympic swimming.[1] He is the first United States citizen of African descent to medal gold in an individual Olympic swimming event.[2]

Anthony Ervin
Ervin in 2016
Personal information
Full nameAnthony Lee Ervin
National team United States
Born (1981-05-26) May 26, 1981
Valencia, California
Height1.91 m (6 ft 3 in)
Weight80 kg (176 lb)
College teamUniversity of California, Berkeley

Ervin stopped swimming competitively at the age of 22 in 2003[3] and auctioned off his 2000 Olympic gold medal on eBay to aid survivors of the 2004 tsunami,[4][5][6] but he began to train again in 2011.[5]

Ervin competed in the 50-meter freestyle event at the 2012 Summer Olympics where he placed fifth.[7] In the Spring of 2016, Akashic Books released Ervin's memoir, Chasing Water, co-authored by Ervin and Constantine Markides.[8] At the 2016 Summer Olympics, 16 years after his first Olympic gold medal, he won the event for the second time, at the age of 35, becoming the oldest individual Olympic gold medal winner in swimming.[9]

Personal life

Ervin is African-American and Jewish,[10][11][12][13] and was born in Hollywood. He is of Ashkenazi Jewish descent on his mother's side and African-American descent on his father's. He was raised in Valencia, California.[5][14][15][16] Ervin has described himself as a "practicing Zen Buddhist".[17] In July 2017 he said: "I’m proud to be a Jew."[18]

While living in Santa Clarita, he swam for Canyons Aquatic Club, and also competed on the Hart High School's swim team in Newhall, California.[19] Anthony enrolled in the University of California, Berkeley, where he received his bachelor's degree in English in 2010.[20]

He is currently pursuing a graduate degree in sport, culture and education at Cal.[5]

International career

2000: Sydney Summer Olympic Games

At the 2000 United States Olympic Trials in Indianapolis, Ervin competed in two events: the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle. In the finals of the 100-meter freestyle, Ervin finished fifth with a time of 49.29, ensuring him a spot on the 4×100-meter freestyle relay.[21] In the final of the 50-meter freestyle, Ervin finished second to Gary Hall Jr. with a time of 21.80.[22]

At the 2000 Summer Olympics, Ervin won one gold and one silver medal. In his first final, the 4×100-meter freestyle relay, Ervin teamed up with Gary Hall Jr., Neil Walker and Jason Lezak. Going into the final, the Americans had never lost the event at the Olympics. Ervin swam the leadoff leg in 48.89, the second best lead-off behind Michael Klim's world record time of 48.18. The American team ended up finishing in second place with a time of 3:13.86 behind Australia, who finished in a world record time of 3:13.67.[23] In the final of the 50-meter freestyle, Ervin tied Gary Hall Jr. for the gold with a time of 21.98.[24]

After the gold medal race, reporter Jim Gray asked Ervin what it felt like to be the first swimmer of African American descent to win gold. Referring to this moment in a 2012 interview, Ervin stated, "I didn't know a thing about what it was like to be part of the black experience. But now I do. It's like winning gold and having a bunch of old white people ask you what it's like to be black. That is my black experience."[25]

2001–2003: World Championships and Pan Pacs

Ervin won two gold medals at the 2001 World Aquatics Championships in the 50-meter freestyle[26] and the 100-meter freestyle.[27] He also competed in the 4 x 100 freestyle relay, but the United States relay team was disqualified.[28] At the 2002 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships Ervin won silver medals in both the 50-meter freestyle and the 4 x 100 freestyle relay.

2012: Comeback and Summer Olympics

Twelve years after competing in his last Olympics as a 19-year-old, Ervin qualified for his second United States Olympic team as a 31-year-old at the 2012 United States Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska, by finishing second in the men's 50-meter freestyle. His time of 21.60 seconds was only one one-hundredth (0.01) of a second behind Cullen Jones (21.59) and also a personal best for Ervin.[29][30] At the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, he finished fifth in the finals of the 50-meter freestyle with a time of 21.78 seconds.[31]

2013–14: World Championships and Pan Pacs

At the 2013 US National Championships, Ervin qualified to swim at the 2013 World Aquatics Championships in Barcelona by placing second in the 50-meter freestyle with a time of 21.70, and third in the 100-meter freestyle with a time of 48.49.

In his first event at the World Championships, Ervin combined with Nathan Adrian, Ryan Lochte and Jimmy Feigen in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay, with the team finishing behind France. Swimming the third leg, Ervin recorded a split of 47.44, and the team finished with a final time of 3:11.44. Ervin's split was the fastest among the Americans.

In his only individual event, the 50-meter freestyle, Ervin entered the final as the second seed with a semi-final time of 21.42, a personal best for him and only 2-hundredths of a second behind the American record. In the final, Ervin finished in 6th place with a time of 21.65.

In 2014, on the Gold Coast, Ervin collected 2 silver medals at the Pan Pacs.

2016 Olympics

In the 2016 Olympics, Ervin swam the 50 m freestyle, placing 1st in the final with a time of 21.40 seconds. At the age of 35, this made him the oldest individual Olympic gold medal winner in swimming, taking the record from Michael Phelps.[9] He also won a gold medal in the relay 4 × 100 m with United States by swimming in the morning heat.

2017 Maccabiah Games

Ervin took part in the torch lighting ceremony at the 2017 Maccabiah Games on July 6, 2017.[32] He won gold medals in the 50-meter freestyle (with a time of 22.05 seconds), the 100-meter freestyle (with a time of 49.76 seconds), and the 4×100m medley relay (with the Americans clocking 3:41.82).[33][34] In the special 4x50m relay race between Israeli and American all-star teams, American Olympic champions Ervin, Lenny Krayzelburg (four Olympic golds), and Jason Lezak (four Olympic golds), with masters swimmer Alex Blavatnik, swam a time of 1:48.23 and defeated Israeli Olympians Guy Barnea, Yoav Bruck, Eran Groumi, and Tal Stricker, who had a time of 1:51.25.[35]


Ervin's memoir was released by Akashic Books in 2016.[8] Co-authored by Ervin and Constantine Markides, Chasing Water received The Buck Dawson Authors Award from The International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2018.[36]

See also


  1. " - Black History".
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 15, 2016. Retrieved September 21, 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. Barry Kelly (July 6, 2004). "Olympic Gold Medalist Anthony Ervin Gives Up Swimming, Fame and Money". The Daily Californian. Archived from the original on July 5, 2012. Retrieved July 1, 2012.
  4. Erik Brady (June 27, 2012). "Anthony Ervin has no regrets, feels lucky to be at trials". USA Today. Retrieved July 1, 2012.
  5. Pat Borzi (June 28, 2012). "Spreading Joy of Swimming, Ex-Olympian Finds It Again". The New York Times. Retrieved July 1, 2012.
  6. Paul Newberry (May 18, 2012). "Ervin, Swimming's Mystery Man, Returns to the Pool". Associated Press. Archived from the original on February 23, 2013. Retrieved July 1, 2012.
  7. Associated Press (July 1, 2012). "Anthony Ervin has no regrets, feels lucky to be at trials". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 1, 2012.
  8. Ervin, Anthony; Markides, Constantine (April 5, 2016). Chasing Water: Elegy of an Olympian. Edge of Sports. ISBN 9781617754449.
  9. Gibbs, Robert (August 12, 2016). "Ervin passes Phelps to become oldest swimmer to win solo gold". Swimswam. Retrieved August 13, 2016.
  10. "The Jewish Week – Connecting the World to Jewish News, Culture, and Opinion". The Jewish Week.
  11. "Jewish Olympian Anthony Ervin Gets Closer to 2nd Gold in 50M Freestyle".
  12. "Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame Home".
  13. "Jews and the Olympic Games".
  14. "Interfaith Celebrities: Olympic Update".
  15. Taylor, Paul (2004). Jews and the Olympic Games: The Clash Between Sport and Politics : with a Complete Review of Jewish Olympic Medallists. Sussex Academic Press. ISBN 9781903900871.
  16. Lisa Dillman (August 14, 2000). "Winning Isn't Only Thing in Men's 100 Freestyle". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 1, 2012.
  18. "Records fall as Olympians shine at Maccabiah Games".
  19. MaNishtana (February 14, 2011). "Today in Black Jewish History Month, Anthony Ervin". Retrieved July 2, 2012.
  20. John Crumpacker (June 27, 2012). "Anthony Ervin back in swimming after decade off". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved July 1, 2012.
  21. "2000 US Olympic Team Trials – Men's 100 m freestyle results (final)" (PDF). Omega Timing. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
  22. "2000 US Olympic Trials results". Retrieved July 18, 2019.
  23. "2000 Sydney Olympic Games – Men's 4x100 m freestyle relay results (final)" (PDF). Omega Timing. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
  24. "2000 Sydney Olympic Games – Men's 50 m freestyle results (final)" (PDF). Omega Timing. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
  25. "Olympics 2012: Gold Medal Swimmer Anthony Ervin Is Out to Reclaim His Title". Rolling Stone.
  26. "FINA: 9th World Championships 50m". Archived from the original on September 3, 2014. Retrieved August 5, 2012.
  27. "FINA: 9th World Championships 100m". Archived from the original on March 10, 2016. Retrieved August 5, 2012.
  28. "FINA: 9th World Championships 4X100 freestyle". Archived from the original on February 22, 2013. Retrieved August 5, 2012.
  29. USA Swimming (July 1, 2012). "2012 U.S. OLYMPIC TEAM ROSTER". USA Swimming. Archived from the original on July 4, 2012. Retrieved July 1, 2012.
  30. Associated Press (July 1, 2012). "He's baaack: Anthony Ervin going back to Olympics after finishing 2nd in 50 free at US trials". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 1, 2012.
  31. "Swimming results". NBC Olympics Coverage. Retrieved August 3, 2012.
  32. "Ervin, Gilot To Participate In Torch Lighting At Maccabiah Games". June 17, 2017.
  33. "Ervin wraps up Maccabiah experience with two more gold medals".
  34. "Ervin captures gold in 100-meter freestyle," The Jerusalem Post.
  35. "Records fall as Olympians shine at Maccabiah Games," The Jerusalem Post.
  36. " | Anthony Ervin". Retrieved July 18, 2018.
Preceded by
Roland Schoeman
Men's 50-meter freestyle
world record-holder (short course)

March 23, 2000 – January 28, 2001
Succeeded by
Mark Foster
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