Posted: Nov 4, 2012 8:20 PM by Eric Blumberg
Updated: Nov 5, 2012 11:18 AM
COLUMBIA -- When Missouri joined the SEC it joined the best swimming conference in the country. Now, one former SEC swimmer is trying to take Mizzou to the next level.
Mark Gangloff says ever since he can remember he was in the water and has led to a career as a two-time gold medal winning Olympic swimmer. Now he's passing his passion for the pool onto others.
Gangloff started to focus his swimming on the breast stroke when he was 12 years old. That same year, a dream was born.
"There was an Olympian named Mike Barrowman who came and spoke to my club team. We were sitting in the stands and he said someone in this group someday can go to the Olympics and that was kind of that day the Olympic dream was planted in my mind," Gangloff said.
He narrowly missed his dream in 2000, but four years later, Gangloff gained his goal.
"In 2004 I was the third ranked breaststroker going in and I squeaked my way onto the team," Gangloff explained.
He did it again in 2008. At both Olympics, Gangloff won gold medals in the 400 medley relay with Michael Phelps as a teammate.
"His mental ability to focus before a race is what impresses me the most cause he is always like a laser," Gangloff said. "He manages to be calm while being laser focused."
While most focus on the Olympics, they aren't Gangloff's only highlight.
"Finally in 2009 I broke the one minute barrier. I almost skipped 59 completely. I went 59.01 and won our nationals in Indianapolis," Gangloff said.
In August, Mizzou's Greg Rhodenbaugh hired the three-time world champion as an assistant coach.
"We're both from Ohio, we're both breaststrokers, and we both married divers. So, we see eye to eye on a lot of things," Rhodenbaugh speculated.
Gangloff works with all of the swimmers but focuses most of his attention on the sprinters.
"Just to have him be our coach and know he's been there and done that before and he's telling us what to do. It's just a great opportunity for us," senior Michael Beck said.
"I think I have their ear because I can say I've done that before," Gangloff added.
Gangloff is still one of the top 15 breaststrokers in the world and he's seen his career come full circle from the time his Olympic dream started.
"It became a driving force throughout my career just him speaking those words to us. Now I go do swim clinics and I try to say the same things to kids when I go speak to them," Gangloff said.
Gangloff's wife Ashley is a former state championship diver at Hickman High School.
She is still working at Auburn and just gave birth to the couples 2nd baby girl on November 2nd.
Gangloff is one of three new assistant coaches on the Mizzou swim team. Julie Stupp and John Pontz also joined the team.