Greater Joliet Area YMCA
Illinois Swimming
Level 2

David Sims (1980)

David Sims, 1980 Olympian

The Joliet Y Jets Swim Team is proud to have developed one Olympic swimmer in our history!

David Sims was named to the 1980 USA Olympic swim team in the 1500 meter freestyle.

David grew up in Joliet and began swimming at age 8. He says this about his youth: "If you had seen me between the ages of 9-13 you never would have known I was an athlete. I was overweight and my swimming success just kept getting worse."

David credits his success to Coach Tim Hill, who came to the team in 1977 and stressed dedication, hard work and doing things correctly.

David's hard work paid off as he became a YMCA National Champion in the 1650 yard freestyle in 1978. He also won the 400 meter freestyle at USA Junior Nationals in 1979. In the spring of 1980, he won the 1650 yard freestyle at USA Nationals and also won the 200 free, 500 free and 1650 free at YMCA Short Course Nationals that spring.

David also had hopes of making the USA Olympic Team in 1980. The Olympics that year were being held in Moscow and when the Soviet Union intervened in the Afghanistan civil war against the wishes of the United States, President Jimmy Carter decided that the United States would boycott the 1980 Olympic Games.

The Olympic Trials are normally held a few weeks before the Olympics in order to choose the Olympic team. Due to the circumstances, the Olympic Trials for swimming were cancelled. Instead, the USA National Long Course Championships which were being held later that summer took the place of Olympic Trials so that, even if the athletes could not compete at the Olympics, they could at least be awarded the honor of being named to the Olympic team.

USA Nationals were held in Invine, CA from July 29 to August 2, just days after the conclusion of the swimming events at the Moscow Olympics. The results of the Olympics were displayed side by side with the Olympic Trials results so that they could be compared live as the meet was happening. It was at this meet that David Sims took 2nd place in the 1500 meter freestyle (15:25.92) and was named to the Olympic team!

Coach Tim Hill and David Swims are pictured below walking on deck at Olympic Trials in 1980.

David Sims with Coach Tim Hill at 1980 Olympic Trials

Congress voted to give the Congressional Gold Medal to each member of the 1980 USA Olympic Team. Below, David Sims is pictured receiving this award from President Jimmy Carter.

David Sims receives Congressional Gold Medal from President Jimmy Carter

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