GAINESVILLE — Florida swimming head coach Anthony Nesty knows what it's like to win at the highest level. At the 1988 Olympics, Nesty, representing his home country of Suriname, became the first black swimmer to win an individual swimming gold medal. Now he's trying to help Team USA get to the top of the podium. Nesty was chosen as an assistant coach this summer.
"The Olympics is kind of our Super Bowl," Nesty said shortly before leaving for training camp. "It’s where you put on the scale of being the world’s best, or the country’s best. Being a gold medalist and a gator, it’s a special thing."
UF standouts Bobby Finke and Kieran Smith made their first Olympic team this year. They'll join a roster that includes former Gator and international phenom Caeleb Dressel. Nesty says they have the right mix to help the young swimmers grind through the Olympic process.
"Not only the staff but Caeleb and some other older guys, too," Nesty said. "I think that’s gonna help them calm their nerves, but by the same token, they’ll be able to perform at an even higher level."
There won't be any fans allowed inside the venues, and Tokyo is experiencing a COVID-19 surge. But Nesty said everyone needs to stick to the safety protocols that they've grown accustomed to and remember why they made the trip.
"You can’t get too high, you can’t get too low. You have to have an even keel. You have to have confidence in the staff. You have to have confidence in yourself, and you have to have confidence in the team."
The Tokyo Olympics get underway July 23rd with the swimming competition starting on the 24th.