Anthony Ervin, also Urban Swim Program’s advisory board member, competed in his first meet this weekend in seven years. With an impressive showing at The Chesapeake Elite Pro-Am in Oklahoma City, winning the 100 free and placing second in the 50 Free, Ervin respectively earned the title comeback kid. Ervin, an Olympic Gold Medalist from the 200o Sydney Olympics is back in the pool again training for a berth on the 2012 Olympic Team to compete in London. I recently had the chance to speak with Ervin, and what’s on his mind you ask? A lot of passion for life and the sport of swimming.
At what age did you start swimming? And how did you get into the sport of swimming?
Ervin: I was born into a home that provided a swimmer’s luxury; a backyard pool in a Los Angeles suburb. The home was a rental, but my parents took me swimming in the pool as much as possible during the first 3 years of my life (and then we moved to a home without a pool). I got into the sport of swimming by following in my older brother’s example. I already had a liking for the water so when I was 6 I started formal lessons and began competing at 7. From the practical standpoint that my brother was already on the swim team, we would travel to the same location after school.
What is the most important lesson you have learned from the sport?
Ervin: That is a difficult one because the lessons are so vast. While swimming has practical applications, I tend to lean towards psychological, figurative, or even metaphysical answers. Discipline, perseverance, strength, flexibility, social strength, pressure control… But I suppose a short answer could be I’ve learned to accept my own body as an object and subject of labor and art.
To date, what is your most valued achievement?
Ervin:To be living with strength, love, and purpose.
I hear you are training again. What is different this time around?
Ervin:Just about everything! It used to be that training was done—at best–begrudgingly. But I was so young back then. Now, getting in the pool or the weight room is what I look forward to the most each day. Every day when training I get, know, and feel results – for better or for worse! That is something I don’t really experience with other facets of my day.
At some point you made the transition from athlete to coach, how was that perspective different? What did you learn from being a coach? And what do you want to pass on to your athletes?
Ervin: That perpective was inlighening to say tht least. For starters, I couldn’t stand the kids that (mis)behaved like me when I was their age. What a joy and with what ease it is to coach a child with passion for swimming. What a challenge to coach kids like me. I must give credit to all my coaches through the years who had to handle a very delicate yet brazen personality. For me coaching, isn’t even that much about swimming (I have that knowledges in spades), but about meeting the challenges of all types of kids-thats the game. Its is about relationships, about youth and growth-for them and ME! I’m still growing here too! I could probably tell my swimmers that, but I don’t. Instead I stand like an implacacble, domitable hero on the pool deck, haha.
I pass on much to much to my athletes. A lot of technical work, cultural knowledge of the sport, but I try to live my role fueling their passion inciting in them the drive and the hunger for more more MORE. To want to improve, to become stronger, to make the heart and mind like stone for the performance so they both burn with joy and satisfaction after overcoming a challenge with the body.
Why is this cause important to you?
Ervin: Swimming has, in a large part, shaped my life. Now it is my turn to shape the lives of others. Swimming is a great culture, and having seen and experienced others, dare I say better than most? With my time I would like to offer what I can to the cause so that more swimmers are in pools or in ponds, lakes, seas; always getting stronger, always moving forward and beyond for themselves and the sport.