Melvin Stewart

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Melvin Stewart
Personal information
Full name Melvin Monroe Stewart
Nickname(s) "Mel"
Nationality  United States
Born (1968-11-16) November 16, 1968 (age 45)
Gastonia, North Carolina
Height 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight 183 lb (83 kg)
Sport
Sport Swimming
Stroke(s) Butterfly, freestyle
College team University of Tennessee

Melvin Monroe Stewart (born November 16, 1968) is an American former competition swimmer and former world record-holder who won two gold medals and one bronze medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.

Stewart was a prominent 200-meter butterfly swimmer of his era. A 14-time national champion, he won the 200-meter event at the 1991 World Championships in Perth, defeating Hall of Famers Michael Gross of Germany and Tamás Darnyi of Hungary. Next year he became the gold medalist at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in Olympic record time, 1:56.26. Stewart, the world-record holder since 1991, won a second gold as a preliminary heat member of the 4×100m medley relay and a bronze on the 4×200m freestyle relay. In his first Olympic Games at Seoul in 1988, he was placed fifth in the 200m butterfly. Stewart held the world record at 1:55.69 from 1991 to 1995 when it was broken by Denis Pankratov of Russia.

Beginning in 1974, under the direction of coach Frankie Bell at the Johnston Memorial YMCA pool in Charlotte, North Carolina, he won several national YMCA titles. Bell taught him stroke technique and built his love for the sport, motivating the already inspired youngster with a banana split every time he won. By age 10, he was ranked among the top 10 in the nation in his age group in sixteen events. "Little Melvin," as he was called, grew up on the grounds of Heritage USA, the PTL Ministries Theme Park and religious retreat where his father was the recreation director of Jim and Tammy Bakker's Heritage Church and athletic director of his school, Heritage Academy.

Stewart became a butterfly side-breather, preferring this unconventional breathing technique to the more traditional head up breathing common to most butterfly swimmers. At 6 feet, 1 inch tall, 180 pounds, he had flexibility, quick hands and feet, remarkable turning ability and kicking power.

In need of some academic tutoring, his mentor George Baxter enrolled Stewart at Mercersburg Academy, a small boarding school known for its academics and competitive swimming teams. In his three years there, Stewart became an honor student and a leader.

He followed his Mercersburg coach John Trembley to the University of Tennessee, where he swam for the Tennessee Volunteers swimming and diving team. He won the 200-meter butterfly at the Goodwill Games of 1986. He repeated with Goodwill Game wins in 1990 and 1994 in Moscow, and at the Pan Pacific Championships of 1987, 1989 and 1991. While at Tennessee, he won two NCAA titles in the 200-meter butterfly.

Stewart holds the record in United States Swimming for winning the most national championships (14) in one event (200-meter butterfly).

After failing to qualify for the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team, Stewart began to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. He appeared in plays, movies and television shows. He served as an ABC Sports field reporter, hosted ESPN'sAmerican Outback and appeared in several films. Stewart has written several films, including a new version of the Lee Falk's The Phantom (called The Ghost Who Walks).

Stewart is the co-founder and publisher of the swimming news website, SwimSwam.com, and a producer-director of commercials through his company, Gold Medal Media, LLC. In addition, he is currently an ambassador to the United States Swimming Foundation. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife Tiffany, and their daughter Bayley.

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Records
Preceded by
West Germany Michael Gross
Men's 200-meter butterfly
world record-holder (long course)

January 12, 1991 – June 14, 1995
Succeeded by
Russia Denis Pankratov