Gabrielle Rose: 46 and Fastest Yet

By Gregory Eggert, World Aquatics Correspondent

At the Atlanta 1996 Olympics, Gabrielle Rose represented Brazil in three individual events. Four years later, at 22, she not only switched to racing for Team USA but also swam her fastest times and achieved her highest placement in the Sydney 2000 Games. Though she pursued her Olympic dreams through 2004, she narrowly missed making the U.S. team, keeping her quest for a medal just out of reach.

A year ago, Gabrielle Rose reignited her competitive spirit at a masters event. There, she swam a swift breaststroke, qualifying for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 100m breaststroke, a cherished event from her childhood. With hard work and the belief of her coach, Scott Hubbard, she also secured a spot in the 200m breaststroke.

At 46, Rose became the oldest of the 949 swimmers at the U.S. Olympic Trials, the gateway to the 2024 Paris Olympics. Reflecting on her early success, Rose recalled setting national records in breaststroke at age 12, driven by the competitive spark ignited by her older brother, Matthew. Although she later lost those records, the experience pushed her to excel in other strokes, eventually shaping her into a versatile swimmer.

Gabrielle Rose: A Timeless Champion’s Olympic Journey

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, to a Brazilian mother and an American father, Rose’s dual citizenship allowed her to represent Brazil at the 1995 Pan American Games and the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. She earned silver in the 100m butterfly and two bronzes in relays at the Pan American Games. In Atlanta, she competed in the 100m freestyle, 100m butterfly, and 200m individual medley, setting Brazilian records along the way.

Rose’s swimming career flourished at Stanford University, where she was part of the 1998 NCAA Championship team and earned 22 All-American honours. Switching allegiance to the U.S., she competed at the 1999 Pan American Games and earned her spot on the U.S. Olympic team for the 2000 Sydney Games. Despite a challenging path, she finished 7th in the 200m individual medley final.

After Sydney, Rose continued to chase her Olympic dreams, even while pursuing an MBA at Stanford. She competed professionally, earning notable accolades, including the USA Swimming Kiphuth Award and several medals at the 2002 World Championships and Pan Pacific Championships.

In 2004, just weeks before the Olympic Trials, Rose was struck by mononucleosis, narrowly missing a spot on the U.S. team. This setback led her to briefly step away from competitive swimming. However, her passion for the sport endured as she focused on preserving an Olympic-sized pool in her hometown, fulfilling her late father’s last philanthropic wish.

Rose’s commitment to swimming remained strong, competing in U.S. Masters Swimming events, where she set numerous records and earned All-American honours. In May 2023, she qualified for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials with impressive times in the 100m and 200m breaststroke events.

Rose returned to the Olympic Trials stage, cheered on by her 9-year-old daughter, Annie. She set personal bests in both the 100m (1:08.32) and 200m breaststroke (2:30.13), advancing to the semifinals. Despite being the oldest competitor, she proved age is just a number, outpacing younger swimmers and earning the admiration of the crowd and fellow Olympians, including Dara Torres.

Reflecting on her journey, Rose expressed gratitude for her experiences and the chance to inspire others. She plans to continue swimming and looks forward to cheering on Team USA at the Paris Olympics with her daughter and coach. For Rose, the pool will always be a place of joy, resilience, and endless possibilities.

Key Takeaways from Gabrielle Rose’s Career

  • Olympic Experience: Competed for Brazil in 1996 and the USA in 2000.
  • National Records: Set Brazilian and U.S. Masters records across multiple strokes.
  • Education and Leadership: Graduated from Stanford, captaining the swim team and maintaining a 4.0 GPA.
  • Inspirational Return: Qualified for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials at 46, setting personal bests and inspiring the next generation.

Rose’s Advice to Aspiring Athletes

  • Embrace Challenges: “Push yourself, get out of your comfort zone, and don’t limit yourself.”
  • Value Strength: “Women should not be afraid to be strong and lift weights.”
  • Seize Opportunities: “You don’t always need to feel ready. Just go out and do it.”

Gabrielle Rose’s story is a testament to perseverance, adaptability, and the undying spirit of an athlete. As she continues to swim and inspire, her legacy in the sport remains as vibrant as ever.

Article courtesy of World Aquatics – https://www.worldaquatics.com/