Jeff Float

Jeffrey James "Jeff" Float is a former American competitive swimmer, World Record holder, World Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist. He qualified for the 1980 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team in three individual events, but could not participate when the United States boycotted the Moscow 1980 Summer Olympic Games. Four years later, he competed at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. As the peer-elected Team Captain, Jeff earned a Gold Medal in the men's 4×200-meter freestyle relay,[1] and finished fourth in the individual 200-meter freestyle event. In 2016 this 4x200-meter freestyle relay was designated the third greatest of all time.

Jeff Float
Personal information
Full nameJeffrey James Float
National teamUnited States
Born (1960-04-10) April 10, 1960
Buffalo, New York
Height6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight187 lb (85 kg)
StrokesIndividual Medley
ClubArden Hills Swim Club
College teamUniversity of Southern California

At 13 months of age, Float lost most of his hearing and nearly his life to viral meningitis. As a result, he is 90% deaf in his right ear and 65% in the left, thus becoming the first legally deaf athlete from the United States to win an Olympic Gold Medal. After swimming the third leg in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay, when the U.S. anchor victoriously hit the wall, the World Record had been shattered by five seconds. Once he and his triumphant teammates emerged from the pool and ascended the podium, Jeff heard a roaring crowd. "It was the first time I remember distinctly hearing loud cheers at any meet. I'll never forget what 17,000 screaming people sound like. It was incredible!" Float reports.[2] In first grade he began training under the legendary Olympic Coach Sherm Chavoor at Arden Hills Country Club in Sacramento. There Jeff graduated from Jesuit High School and then proceeded to obtain a bachelor's degree in psychology with a minor in business administration from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.[3]

Float garnered ten Gold Medals and World Records in all ten events at the 1977 World Games for the Deaf (renamed Deaflympics) in Bucharest, Romania. This remains an unprecedented record.[4] Other swimming accomplishments include: Gold Medal in the 400-meter freestyle at the 1978 U.S. National Championships in Woodlands, Texas; Silver Medal in the 400-meter freestyle at the 1978 World Aquatics Championships in Berlin, Germany; Personal First Places in the 200-meter individual medley and 500-meter freestyle at the 1978 National Prep School Championships in Mission Viejo, California; Gold Medal in the 400-meter freestyle at the 1981 U.S. National Championships in Brown Deer, Wisconsin; two Gold Medals in the 400-meter freestyle and 400-meter individual medley at the 1981 U.S. vs. USSR in Kiev, Russia; Gold Medal in the 400-yard individual medley at the 1982 NCAA National Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana; Gold Medal in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay at the 1982 World Aquatics Championships in Guayaquil, Ecuador; and Gold Medal in the 400-meter individual medley at the 1982 U.S. vs. USSR in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Sports Illustrated featured Jeff on its July 1984 cover and in three subsequent articles. Vanity Fair also selected Float and his 4x200-meter teammates for the September 1984 cover and pictorial and published a follow-up article with photographs in August 1994. Other media exposure incorporates the following: appearances on television series, commercials and live interviews; magazine and newspaper covers and related stories; and myriad book forewords, chapters and quotations. Float served on the Board of Directors for the California President's Council on Physical Fitness from 1985 through 2011. He was chosen as Deaf Olympian of the Century by the International Committee of Deaf Sports in 2000 and carried the Olympic Torch en route to the 1986 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games. In 2008 his boycotted 1980 U.S. Summer Olympic Team was bestowed with Congressional Gold Medals of Honor. Jeff is also the recipient of numerous awards and an inductee in many Halls of Fame.

Float has been employed for over two decades by Spare Time Inc. as the Aquatics Director, now based out of the Gold River Racquet Club in Gold River, California. There he is the head coach of the Gold River Stingrays spring and summer recreational team and a personal trainer to athletes of all levels. Float is also co-head coach of the Spare Time Aquatics Sharks in Sacramento, a United States Swimming year-round program. In addition to coaching, Jeff is a real-estate agent with Investment Property Management Inc. and a popular motivational speaker. He and his wife Jan Ellis Float are active and longtime participants in Swim Across America, a national nonprofit organization that has earned $100 million while "Making Waves to Fight Cancer." Jeff and Jan are involved in other statewide and local charities and members of various professional and personal associations.

See also


  1. "1984 Olympics – Los Angeles, United States – Swimming" Archived 2008-08-27 at the Wayback (Retrieved on May 6, 2008)
  2. World Class Speakers & Entertainers - Jeff Float, Swimmer
  3. USC OLYMPIANS: 1904-2008, USC Trojans Athletic Department, Accessed August 26, 2008.
  4. "Athletes | Deaflympics". Retrieved 2017-08-30.


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