David Plummer waits patiently as a third plane in less than 10 minutes passes overhead his backyard in South Minneapolis. It’s is the third time he’s been interrupted as he answers questions about his prolific swimming career, and his new mission going forward. The newest V3 Board Member is patient… and he’s persistent. He doesn’t give up easily, and he’s proven that once he sets his mind to finish what he’s started, there’s not much that can slow him down. Somehow, he won the marathon before he won the sprint.
“The summer after I graduated from college, I achieved a time that would have put me on the Olympic team a year earlier. So, at the point, I was like, I can’t be done! I have to make a run at this,” Plummer explained during a lull in control tower activity at MSP International Airport.
Plummer won two Big 10 Championships swimming for the Gophers and just missed qualifying for the Olympic swim team in 2008. In 2012, he missed making the team by a fraction of a second. At that point, he was married, had a child, and was working full-time. As a family man, he was in the deep end, but he just couldn’t put his dreams in the rearview mirror. Not yet. In fact, he was more mature and more driven than ever.
Plummer made the US Olympic Swim team in 2016. He went to Rio, won a bronze medal in the 100-meter backstroke, and earned a gold medal as a member of the 4X100-meter medley relay. “It was just kind of surreal to represent the USA at that level. I just feel humbled that I got there. That’s a dream come true at the highest level. Just being there, you’re kind of overwhelmed by the moment and how big it is.”
Five years later, David Plummer is helping amateur and professional athletes with the mental aspects of training and competition. He credits the work of sports psychologists for his past success, especially after 8 years of near misses before reaching the top of the world in his sport of choice. But back to 2021, we found an extremely busy man who couldn’t resist the pull of the pool.
Plummer is now on the V3 Board of Directors.
“To think about the impact that a center like this can have on not only just some of the statistics you hear about drowning rates and things like that…but to also open the doors for a group of young people that may not have access, that is just unbelievable.”
The planes above couldn’t drown out Plummer’s passion as he talked about helping all residents of Minneapolis learn how to swim, regardless of race or income or where they live. For this former Olympian, the statistics regarding drowning disparities are unfathomable; the lack of access and equity in swimming lessons is unacceptable.
“To think about the impact that a center like this can have on not only just some of the statistics you hear about drowning rates and things like that…but to also open the doors for a group of young people that may not have access, that is just unbelievable.“
— David Plummer
“It hurts to see those statistics. It hurts to hear anyone has drowned and to know that it’s preventable. That’s the part that hurts the most,” he explained.
Growing up, David Plummer was minutes from a pool in Norman, Oklahoma. His mother was a swim teacher. She also trained swim instructors. Plummer and his brothers would pile into the van daily and head to the pool, it’s just the way he was raised. Now, he wants to help provide that opportunity to everyone in the Twin Cities, and he really wants to highlight that swim lessons aren’t just for kids.
“When a parent of a young person is scared of something, they kind of pass those fears on. So, I think it’s incredibly important to get that right. It won’t be easy. I think it’s really difficult to swim period, but it’s much harder to learn something later in life. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. You can definitely do it.”
Once the V3 Center is built, David has already picked out the first person he’s going to bring to the pool. It’s going to be another world-class athlete who has achieved a great deal of professional, athletic success; another person who arrived at the University of Minnesota years ago, rose to the top of his sport, and is ready to inspire others.
“I’ll continue to work on my buddy Quincy Lewis, who played for the Timberwolves (and the Utah Jazz). We’ll get him to learn how to swim, and if he can do it, anybody can do it,” Plummer concluded with a smile.
V3 can’t wait to tell that story. The team also can’t wait to build the V3 Center, and we’re honored to welcome David Plummer to our Board of Directors.