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Oakland Swim Team Has Love For "Coach Tony"

The 31-year-old finished third in the 50m freestyle on Thursday.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Members of the Oakland Undercurrents swim team talk about the love they have for "Coach Tony" -- Olympic swimmer Anthony Ervin and Cal master's student. The Undercurrents team held a swimming championship of their own on Thursday at Independence High School in San Jose, the same day Ervin qualified to compete in the 50 m freestyle. (Published Friday, Aug 3, 2012)

    Members of Oakland's Undercurrents swim team, couldn't be more proud of Anthony Ervin, a Cal student and Olympic swimmer, who came in fifth place during the 50 meter freestyle on Friday.

    That's because he's their swim coach.

    When he's not splashing down lanes at the Olympics, the 31-year-old Ervin does indeed take time from his studies at the University of California at Berkeley in sport, culture and education to train with racially mixed students, ages 9 to 17, at  the nonprofit, Undercurrents.

    The Undercurrents youth team competed in their own swim championship on Thursday at San Jose's Independence High School - the same day Erivn qualified to compete in the 50 meter freestyle.

    Ervin, a tattoeed half-black, half-Jewish, graduate of UC Berkeley, has graced the pages of Rolling Stones magazine, the New York Times, and many other publications, not only for his Olympic swimming prowess, but for his colorful background.

    Ervin won a gold medal at the Olympics in 2000, but then shocked the world when he quit swimming at age 22 and sold that medal on eBay, only to give the $17,000 or so to for 2004 tsunami relief.

    He lived in Brooklyn for a while, and then returned to swimming again in 2010, back in the Bay Area, where, until recently, he was living in a Berkeley co-op, according to his friend and fellow Undercurrents coach, Spencer Hawkins of Berkeley. Inevitably, Ervin will need to find a new place to live when he starts school in the fall.