High School: Jesuit
College: University of Southern California
* Olympic Gold Medalist 1984 Los Angeles - 4x200m Freestyle
* Gold Medalist: World Aquatic Championships 1982 Guayaquil -
* Silver Medalist: World Aquatic Championships 1978 Berlin -
Jeff Float’s destiny was foretold generations before his birth. “With the last name of Float,” he joked during a televised interview with the USOC, “what else was I going to do?”
As an infant in Buffalo, NY, Jeff suffered from viral meningitis which resulted in him losing 90 percent of his hearing in his right ear and 65 percent in his left. Upon moving to Sacramento at age seven, he joined the neighborhood swim club: Arden Hills. Coached by legendary Sherm Chavoor, Jeff watched in awe as “my big-kid teammates” Debbie Meyer, Mark Spitz, Mike Burton and others swam their way into Olympic history.
Despite his impaired hearing, Jeff took to the water like his predecessors. Jeff attended Jesuit High School and smashed local records. He then attended USC and took the NCAA by storm. But Jeff’s biggest prize was still ahead. His goal was to follow in the footsteps of his former Sacramento swimming icons. In pursuit of his Olympic dream, Jeff traveled the globe amassing national and world records. In 1980 Jeff was set for Olympic greatness as he clinched a spot on the 1980 U.S. Olympic team. However, politics intervened and it was determined that the United States would not compete in the Moscow Games. Jeff and so many other American athletes were devastated.
Four years later Jeff finally got his opportunity as he would compete in LA’s 1984 Olympic Games. There, Jeff captured the hearts of everyone as he and his teammates captured Gold in the 4x200m freestyle relay by crushing the world record.
Jeff Float will always go down in history as the first legally deaf athlete from the United States to win an Olympic gold medal. However, Jeff’s medal accomplishments are more than just his Olympic gold. Overall, Jeff has won over 20 medals including an unprecedented 10 gold medals in 10 events at the 1977 World Games for the Deaf in Bucharest. A record which had never been broken.
Known for nearly two decades now as “Coach Jeff,” he’s employed by Spare Time Inc. as an Aquatics Director based out of the Gold River Racquet Club. Jeff feels blessed to share his lifelong passion with swimmers of all ages and gives his expertise and guidance to future Olympic hopefuls. He is known for leading his contagious “I Believe” cheer during meets, which has become a tradition for swimmers, parents and spectators.
Residing locally with his wife Jan, they are active participants in worldwide Starkey Hearing Foundation, nationwide Swim Across America, Disabled Sports USA/ Wounded Warrior Project and Sacramento’s own Sutter Senior Care Advisory Board, CCHAT Center [Children’s Choice for Hearing & Talking] and the Down Syndrome Information Alliance.
“I consider it a privilege to be named as a nominee along with the phenomenal homegrown athletes. And now to learn I’m actually being inducted into the Sacramento Sports Hall of Fame… what an honor.”