Two-Time Olympic Gold Medalist To Graduate from DCP Saturday

Editor’s note: This story originally appeared on

Thursday, December 14, 2023
By: Bennett Solomon

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For most Olympians, training is the top priority to compete against the most talented athletes in the world. And with the 2024 Paris Olympics quickly approaching in August, this is a critical and demanding time of year.

But for swimmer Bobby Finke, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, another priority is on his mind: graduation.

Finke finished school on Tuesday and plans to walk the stage on Saturday, earning his University of Florida bachelor’s degree in construction management.

It came down to two schools for Finke with his college decision. A decision between Florida and a school most Gators dislike, the University of Georgia. Finke’s back and forth on a decision drove both coaches crazy. He ultimately chose to be in Gainesville and knows he made the right choice.

“I had the greatest time of my life here,” Finke said at the recent UAA Student-Athlete Graduation Celebration. “It was a really big decision for me to decide which school to go to. There’s not a single regret I would ever have about coming to the University of Florida.”

While finishing up degree requirements, Finke has juggled the intense training along with school. According to Finke, he’s in “Christmas Training,” where he will swim twice daily for 14 days straight.

However, he’s familiar with balancing both obstacles. Since stepping foot on campus in 2018, he and hundreds of other UF athletes have maneuvered through athletics and academics during the school year. Finke said that the camaraderie and shared vision made the process easier.

“The best thing about it is I’m not alone doing it,” he said. “Knowing that I’m with a bunch of other people who are also doing it, who also are understanding the time management it takes to balance those two workloads, it makes it easier because you’re doing it together.”

Finke’s collegiate career ended in 2022, and he racked up dozens of accolades as a Gators swimmer.

He is a two-time NCAA Champion in the 1650-meter freestyle (2021, 2022) and is an NCAA Champion in the 400 IM (2021). Additionally, he is an 11-time All-American, a three-time Southeastern Conference champion and made the All-SEC First-Team every year as a Gator athlete.

Finke, Bobby (U.S. Olympian/Gators swimmer)
Former Gators swimmer Bobby Finke, a two-time gold medalist at the Tokyo Olympics, will walk during commencement Saturday at the O’Connell Center. (Photo: UAA file)

He’s most known for his 2020 Olympics performance in Tokyo, winning two gold medals for the United States squad. When the Olympics approached his junior year, Finke said he wanted to qualify for the U.S. team and didn’t worry about medaling.

According to Finke, when he made the team and traveled to Tokyo, it was all about making the most of the opportunity on the world’s largest stage for swimmers.

He went on to win gold in the 800 freestyle with a time of 7:41.87, which set an American record. Then, he won his second gold of the Olympic Games with a time of 14:39.65 in the 1500 freestyle.

Finke returned home to St. Petersburg following the Olympics and went to his home pool, St. Petersburg Aquatics. He was surprised when hundreds of people asked for pictures, congratulating him on a stellar performance.

“It was something I never expected to happen,” Finke said. “My mouth was sore afterward for trying to smile the whole time. That meant a lot because I didn’t realize how many people actually saw the race. These many people cared about a race. That meant a lot to me.”

Now, Finke will look to repeat his success in Paris. He will undergo an immense amount of training in preparation for the Olympics and the U.S. Olympic Trials in June. After trials, he said there would be five to six weeks between trials and Paris.

“From here until then, it’s just a lot of training,” he said. “A lot of dying in practice, going fast in practice. You don’t know what it’s going to be like every day if you’re going to be good or bad. It’s kind of exciting.”

Before focusing solely on training, he will be handed a degree on stage Saturday at the O’Connell Center. He’ll be the third Finke to receive a degree from UF. His oldest sister, Autumn, earned her undergraduate degree and is currently attending UF’s Levin College of Law. His middle sister, Summer, got her master’s from Florida, as well.

Both of his parents will be in attendance, along with his girlfriend and sisters. After graduation, it’s all swimming from there, and Finke is determined to show his performance in Tokyo was not a one-hit wonder.

“Over the past couple of years, one of the things I was always trying to do for myself was just prove to myself that I belong here, and it wasn’t a one-time thing,” he said. “I feel I’ve done that pretty well for my own mental sake these past couple of years. I’m a big racer. That’s my thing.

“I’m going to do my best to race these guys.”

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