INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, June 29. ROWDY Gaines will be providing his unique color commentary for NBC at the 2016 Olympic Games, with sources informing Swimming World that the Olympian signed a contract this week to work at his seventh consecutive Olympic Games.
The deal runs through only the 2016 Games, as opposed to Gaines' last contract, which kept him as an NBC employee for two Olympiads (2008 and 2012). The new contract also means Gaines will be a part of the Universal Sports/NBC coverage of the USA Swimming national championships through the 2016 Olympic Trials, as well as coverage of the 2014 Pan Pacific championships and 2015 world championships. Gaines' longtime TV partner Dan Hicks will also be calling each Olympic race next to Gaines in 2016.
Many had speculated that the role of NBC swimming analyst was up for grabs after the 2012 Olympics, since Gaines had not yet signed an official contract to extend his gig. When contacted by Swimming World at this week's USA Swimming nationals, Gaines said he thought 2012 would be the end of his association with NBC as well, citing his age (53 at the time) as a reason to possibly step away. But he had hoped for at least one more chance to have what he calls “the best seat in the house.”
“We (he and NBC) were going to talk about it after they got done with (the 2014 Winter Olympics),” Gaines said. “But they just called me up last week and asked if I wanted to do it again.”
Gaines said he doesn't consider himself the most knowledgeable swimming commentator, but added: “Nobody loves swimming more than I do. I'll stack my passion for swimming against anyone. And I think that's what they (NBC) wanted.”
The hardest part of being on the NBC broadcast team during the Olympics, Gaines said, is the long hours. He said the team often finds themselves “huddled in the editing truck in sleeping bags” after 18-hour days. But what will make it exciting for him to call races in Rio de Janeiro is working with Hicks, as well as the same producer and director of the 2004, 2008 and 2012 swimming portion of the Games.
Gaines, the 1984 Olympic champion in the 100 freestyle and the 400 free and 400 medley relays, made his Olympic broadcasting debut at the 1992 Olympics. It was also the first time he would work with Hicks, and the two have been calling Olympic swimming races for NBC ever since — with a brief co-commentary stint by Summer Sanders in 1996. His insight on some of the greatest Olympic races in history, combined with his unparalleled enthusiasm, is part of the reason he has been branded swimming's best ambassador.
Gaines will be the color commentator for Universal Sports/NBC at next month's world championships in Barcelona. In addition to his TV duties, Gaines is executive director of Rowdy's Kidz through his longtime collaboration with the LIMU company and works with the USA Swimming Foundation.
Below, a few of Gaines' memorable commentary moments:
Men's 100 fly Olympic final, 2008
Men's 400 free relay Olympic final, 2008
Men's 400 IM Olympic Trials final, 2008