Who Is Olympic Rookie David Plummer?

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick


Editorial Coverage Sponsored By FINIS

By Siobhan Dale, Swimming World College Intern

David Plummer isn’t your average Olympian. In fact, David Plummer isn’t average at all. Over the last eight years Plummer has faced a unique set of challenges, shown a rare strength of belief, and established himself as a true fighter. With his dream of qualifying for the Olympic team accomplished it would appear that Plummer doesn’t have to fight so hard anymore.

But when he was asked if he had any regrets about his second place finish at the Olympic Trials, Plummer responded in the affirmative. He nodded and stated, “that I didn’t win.” Fighting seems to have become second-nature to Plummer. Beyond introducing Plummer as a fighter, there are multiple other identifying factors to who Plummer is. Each one represents a part of the person we will be cheering on at the Olympic Games.

Here are five defining pieces of who Plummer is:

1. A Father


Plummer is married to Erin Forster, a doctor. They live in Minnesota and have two children, Will and Ricky. All three members of his family were at the Olympic Trials supporting him. When asked what his family’s support means to him, Plummer has always responded that his sons and wife stand for what is beyond swimming.

Plummer traded eight years for a fifty-two second race. In those circumstances, positivity is exceptionally hard to attain. Swimming becomes your only world because you have traded so much of your life for what appears to be such little time improvements. When faced with the harsh realities of swimming Plummer has often stated that it is his family who helps keep him positive, knowing that no matter what happens in the pool there is something better beyond it.

2. A Coach 

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

As an occupation beyond being an athlete Plummer is a coach. He coached the Wayzata High School boys’ swim and dive team in Minnesota. In his first year as coach Plummer directed the team to its first ever state title. Along the way he also garnered a title for himself – Coach of the Year. He has also worked various club coaching jobs.

3. A Competitor 


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Although he may technically be a “rookie” David Plummer is not at all new to facing the best competition in the world. In writer Casey Barrett’s article, he explains that the men’s 100 meter backstroke is one of the hardest events to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team in. Why? For years the United States has absolutely dominated that event, meaning that if you’re racing to be the best in the States, you’re expected to be the best in the world. Plummer doesn’t shy away from this challenge.

At the 2012 Olympic Trials, Plummer missed out on a spot by a mere twelve one-hundredths of a second. This time he went into finals ranked first, posting the fifth fastest 100 backstroke time ever. Plummer’s reign extends onto the international stage as well. He has competed in two World Championship meets. In 2011 he won gold in the 100 back, in 2013 he won silver.

4. A Man Behind the Cap and Goggles 

Plummer, David

Photo Courtesy: David Farr

Olympic athletes are absolutely amazing. There’s no dispute about that quality. We get to know them as the men and women on the podium, the competitors in the pool, the faces in the Opening Ceremonies. But sometimes we forget to know them as people like us. When I first began writing this article I thought I wouldn’t be able to relate to Plummer. He’s a backstroker, and I only do backstroke at the most desperate of times. But reading more about him I found, not only do I relate to Plummer as a swimmer, but also as a person.

Plummer was an English major, as I currently am, and like me also played soccer as a kid. We both think that the best way to relax is by reading a book and share a love for movies. When I was younger I always wanted to be a policewoman and Plummer wished to be a fireman. While these connections may seem silly or trivial I often find that it’s the small details that connect us to athletes. We may not know what it’s like to swim in a final at the Olympic Trials or win a World Championship title, but what we do know is how good it feels to get home after a difficult practice, lay on the couch, and just watch movies the rest of the day. We know what it’s like to be a student, to have aspirations outside the pool, to have hobbies. These are the ways we can relate to the people we see accomplishing incredible feats on our TV screens.

One detail about Plummer that particularly resonated with me was his writing. While Plummer may not have a current career in English, he has written pieces and blogs about his swimming. One such particular piece is what he wrote after his painful third place finish at the 2012 Trials. Plummer states that belief is the core value we must all strive to attain in order to accomplish. In his own words, “Belief must come from the core of your being. It must lie under your fear, under your want, under your desires, dreams and goals, under all you have accomplished and all you ever hope to accomplish. This is where you must believe.”

5. An Olympian


Photo Courtesy: Peter Bick

Above all, at this moment, David Plummer is an Olympian. He has qualified to swim the 100 meter backstroke in Rio and his dreams of a podium finish in Rio are completely feasible. I will be watching Plummer’s races intently. His story of success despite brutal years of not achieving his goal and his outlook on those failures has inspired me to reflect on what I esteem meaningful about swimming and who I am outside of the pool. I am lucky to have learned more about who Plummer is outside the arena as well.

Next time I see Plummer it will ultimately be me seeing the swimmer, the fighter, the phenomenal backstroker. All of those accomplishments have motivated me to evaluate my goals in swimming. David Plummer spoke on personal belief. I think that takes us a long while to achieve without doubts. But for now, I can say with confidence that I believe in David Plummer.

Good luck in Rio, David!

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6 years ago

Sub 51.0 and the gold or bust, DP!

john m razi
6 years ago

Very well done piece !!!

Paula Schwartz
6 years ago

Wonderful! He is a tribute to America our land of freedom where we can keep trying until WE decide something different. Plummer’s family are true honest happy people. That’s what makes him a winner!

Suzana Samuela
6 years ago

No such thing as an average Olympian, every athlete at the Olympics is amazing, they work bloody hard to get there

6 years ago

Plummer is a real fighter and a role model for many young swimmers. He has proved ” don’t give up keep trying”

Barbara Chandler
6 years ago

May God bless your adventure as an Olympian, David! Bring home the Gold!