A name synonymous with Jamaican swimming, Andrew Phillips, born April 17th, 1962, grew up in a household of competitive swimmers.
His father Norman Phillips, former national competitive swimmer for Scotland and older sister, Olympian Belinda Phillips being the two strongest influences throughout his swimming career.
Under the watchful eye of his father and guidance from then Head Coach of Flying Fish Ambassadors; Neville Alexander, Andrew began swimming at the tender age of two.
Transitioning to competitive swimming two years later, Andrew began to establish his legacy, garnering the attention of the late Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan), who on two separate occasions travelled to watch Andrew swim.
In 1970 Andrew began to dominate local swimming, when he set two national records in the 400m freestyle and 200m Individual medley, 5:41.40 and 3:06.80 respectively. The following year, he was selected on the national team, being one of the youngest swimmers to compete regionally. Locally, he was male National Senior Champion from 1976 to 1980.
He gained regional success, competing in every major championship under the Central American and Caribbean Amateur Swimming Confederation umbrella. Championships such as the Caribbean Island Swimming Championships, the Central American and Swimming Championships and the Central American and Caribbean Games. He established several records, attained gold, silver & bronze medals, earning several trophies and awards throughout the region.
In 1975, he represented Jamaica at the seventh staging of Summer Pan American Games in Mexico City, Mexico and the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, Canada, being one of the youngest swimmers to compete, though Andrew did not make top 20 in the Pan-American Games, he however placed 6th in the men’s 200 individual medley at the 1978 Commonwealth Games.
He continued to remain determined and dedicated to the sport, qualifying for the 1979 Pan –American Games in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he came sixteenth overall in the men’s 100m freestyle, a huge achievement for both himself and Jamaican swimming.
Whilst attending college in the United States, Andrew continued to make waves throughout the college circuit. He represented the Broward Community College, Seahawks at the National Junior College Athletic Association Division 1 Championships winning 3 gold medals in 1981.
In March 1984, he swam at the USA National Senior Championships, coming 3rd in the men’s 200m individual medley, having the third fastest time in the world; he was named the Rookie of the Meet, being the first non-American swimmer to win that award.
He was invited to compete in the inaugural 1985 Pan-Pacific Swimming Championships in Tokyo Japan, setting a Jamaica national record after placing 6th in the men’s 100m backstroke. The following year he represented Jamaica at the 1986 FINA World Aquatics Championships in Barcelona, Spain.
Andrew qualified for three summer Olympic Games, the XXII Summer Olympiad in Moscow, Russia, the XXIII Summer Olympiad in Los Angeles, California, United States and the XXIV Summer Olympiad in Seoul, South Korea. His most notable, being the 1984 Los Angeles Games, where he made history being the first Jamaican and English Caribbean swimmer to achieve Olympic success, placing 6th in the men’s 200m individual medley final. Unfortunately he was unable to attend Moscow due to illness and Seoul due to funding.
He semi-retired from competitive swimming in 1990, though still swimming for fitness, he attempted to qualify for the XXV Summer Olympiad, Barcelona, Spain in 1992. However due to financial restraints, he was unable to dedicate the necessary funds needed to train at such a level.
Andrew competed in his final competitive meet in front of family, friends, former competitors, future Olympians and spectators at the 1994 Caribbean Island Swimming Championships held in Kingston, Jamaica, a memorable performance and meet, as the CISC games were one of the first regional championships where he represented Jamaica. During the closing ceremony Andrew officially announced his retirement as a competitive swimmer.
Andrews’s legacy in competitive swimming spans more than 40 years, he currently holds six Jamaica national records from 1970, 1972 and 1984, being one of the longest record holders in the history of Jamaican swimming.
His contribution to the sport stems much further than just being an Olympian. After his retirement, he began a career as a coach. His coaching career spans over 25years, beginning in Jamaica; he served as Head Coach of Flying Fish Ambassadors and National Head Coach. Relocating to Miami Florida in 1998, he became Head Coach of Flying Fish USA. Currently, he is a Head Coach at Big Gator Swimming, based in Miami Florida.
Throughout the years, Andrew has developed and honed his craft of coaching by drawing on his experience as a competitive swimmer, his firsthand knowledge and appreciation for what it takes to have dreams and bring them to fruition.
Under his tutelage, swimmers have achieved international, regional, national and local success in all major swimming championships. His swimmers have even gone as far as representing their country in, the Olympic Games and Para – Olympic Games.
Andrew continues to encourage people and swimmers alike as a mentor and motivational speaker, sharing his achievements and disappointments in competitive swimming with others.
“I believe in miracles; I believe in me” – Andrew Phillips