A member of the United States swimming team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Ervin competed in two freestyle events. In the 50-meter freestyle final, he tied close friend and teammate Gary Hall Jr., with a time of 21.98; they were both awarded gold medals. Ervin also won a silver medal in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay (3:13.86) at the Games.
Ervin, who competed in the JCC Maccabi Games, is the son of a Jewish mother and a father who is African-American and Native-American. Although he is the first American world-class swimmer of African-American heritage, Ervin insists that he is not swimming for any race, and said: "I don't think of myself as a race. I hope to be a role model for everybody, black, white, or brown."
At the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials, Ervin entered the competition believing he would have more success in the 100-meter freestyle than in the 50-meter freestyle. The reverse turned out to the truth. In the 100-meter, Ervin finished in fifth and qualified for the U.S. Olympic relay team. In the 50-meter, however, Ervin became only the fifth person to swim under 22 seconds. In the finals, he swam the third-fastest 50-meter in history, but placed second behind Gary Hall Jr., who set the U.S. record in 21.76.
Ervin, who attended the University of California-Berkeley, won the 2000 NCAA title in the 50-meter freestyle (21.21) and 100-meter freestyle (47.36) as a freshman; he broke the world short course record in 50-meter. In 2001, Ervin had a spectacular year. In March, he won the Pac-10 50-yard freestyle with a Pac-10 meet record of 19.11 (breaking Matt Biondi's old record of 19.15). He then won the NCAA Championship in the 100-yard with a time of 41.80, tying both the NCAA and American record. Ervin also competed in the 50-yard freestyle event, finishing in second place with a time of 19.23.
In July 2001, Ervin struck gold in the 50-meter freestyle at the World Championships with a terrific time of 22.09 (.07 faster than the silver medalist). He then won the 100-meter freestyle at the World Championships, setting a new World Championships record in the process (48.33). Ervin was also a member of the 4x100-meter freestyle team that finished third, but was disqualified because their line-up card was wrong (they had the wrong swimmer listed).
In 2002, Ervin was the silver medalist in the 50-meter freestyle and the 4x100-meter relay at the Pan Pacific Championships. He also won the silver medal in the 50-meter freestyle at the U.S. Championships; fellow Jewish swimmer Jason Lezak captured the gold medal. At the NCAA Championships, Ervin tied the U.S. record in the 50-yard freestyle and broke the record in the 100-yard freestyle. He was named Pac 10 Swimmer of the Year.
Ervin, who finished the year ranked No. 2 in the U.S. in the 50-meter free (22.28) and No. 7 in the 100-meter free (50.30), competed in the 50-meter free at the 2003 World Championships. In the prelims, he had a time of 22.74 and missed qualifying for the semifinals by .05 seconds; he officially finished 17th overall.
Birth and Death Dates:
b. May 26, 1981
Use links below to navigate through the olympics section of Jews In Sports.
Jewish Sports Review, September/October 2000 issue (Vol. 2, No. 8, Issue 21)