Team USA's Bowe Becker Quit Swimming, Came Back and Won Gold

Becker was part of the 4X100 freestyle team that won in Tokyo

Bowe Becker of Team United States warm up on day one of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 24, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

U.S. swimmer Bowe Becker didn’t expect to win a gold medal in the 4x100 men’s freestyle relay at the Tokyo Games. He had quit swimming, he told NBC News’ Lester Holt on Monday. 

“If you asked me nine months ago if I was going to be sitting here, I would have laughed at you because I actually was pretty much retired from swimming,” said Becker, a 24-year-old from Reno, Nevada.

The coronavirus pandemic had struck, the University of Minnesota graduate felt burned out and so he went home and stayed away from swimming pools for six months. That changed everything for him, and he developed a better attitude toward the sport.

He “reignited the flame to keep going,” he told Holt. 

And he became part of the 4x100 men’s freestyle relay team -- along with Caeleb Dressel, Zach Apple and Blake Pieroni -- that took the gold.

“Normally you do not take six months off and then try to say, ‘Oh, I’m going to try to make the Olympic trials,’” Becker said.

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