Gig Harbor Canoe Alum Brings Home the Gold

Posted by Key2See Team on August 10, 2021

Gig Harbor Canoe Alum Brings Home the Gold

Gig Harbor now has another Olympian with ties to our town, Nevin Harrison. Nevin graduated from Seattle’s Roosevelt Highschool only last year in 2020 and training and competition has taken her many places around the world, but Nevin calls the Gig Harbor Rowing and Racing Club her home team/club.

19-year-old Nevin Harrison made history Wednesday night, becoming the first woman to win a gold medal in the 200-meter canoe sprint.

Nevin took up paddling at age 11 on Green Lake in Seattle, her serious training began in 2017.

Nevin originally competed in running until she was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. The pain forced her to stop running and take up paddling, first in a kayak then in a canoe. "Most people start with kayaking and people might get mad at me, but I got in the kayak, and I thought, 'This is boring. I want to do something harder'. So, when I was 12 and I was falling every single time in the canoe, I liked the challenge." (, 05 Feb 2020)

Nearly 250 people were cheering her on during the watch party at The Club in downtown Gig Harbor, last Wednesday evening. Friends and family of Harrison celebrated as she crossed the finish line, etching her name in the Olympic history books.

Harrison punched her ticket to Tokyo back in 2019, when she took the gold at the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in the 200-meter race.

Harrison is the first American to medal in sprint canoeing since Greg Barton took home the bronze in the men’s 1000-meter race at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. It’s her first appearance at the Olympic games.

One can hope that life will bring her back to the harbor someday where she can share her talents with the young paddlers in our great community – much like Gig Harbor’s own Amanda Beard has done with her sought-after swim school, Beard Swim Co.

Seven-time Olympic medalist Amanda Beard co-founded Beard Swim Co and has nearly 5 years of success in teaching kids, young and old how to swim or improve their skills in her beautiful, state of the art, indoor swimming facility located in the Uptown area of Gig Harbor just off the Olympic Exit of Highway 16.

In a recent Seattle Times article Amanda recalls her inspiration for her career post-Olympics, “My friend had a swim school in Tucson, Arizona, and my kids swam there,” Beard said. “Watching them go through that process and learn how to swim, and the whole facility she had, I was like, ‘OK, I know what I’m doing. I have to build a swim school, and this is going to be my next chapter: helping kids learn how to swim, to become water smart.’”

Beard’s next chapter brought her to a predestined place. In July 1996, when she was that 14-year-old phenom, Beard told the Los Angeles Times: “When I grow up, I want to move to Washington, probably because I like the trees and the rain and the snow.”

Beard and her family settled in Gig Harbor, where she opened Beard Swim Co. in 2017. Her swim school operates out of two small pools in a 7,000-square-foot facility, where preteens are taught to swim with basic stroke technique.

The school’s mission is service and safety, rather than winning a race.

“It’s amazing,” Beard said. “We have parents that come up and say, ‘Thank you. Our children learning how to swim has completely changed our lives.’ Fear of water and the dangers of water are so strong, and so many people give into that fear, and then they just don’t want to challenge themselves to learn how to swim. Sometimes that then gets passed down to their children and so on and so on.” (, 25 June 2021).

The full article can be read here:

With the Tokyo 2021 games in the history books we can take pride in knowing our town is woven into Nevin Harrison and Amanda Beard’s stories, and hopefully Olympians to come!