Rudy Garcia-Tolson

100m Breaststroke & 200m Individual Medley

“A brave heart is a powerful weapon, and people should never let their challenges define who they are.”

Swimmer.  Runner.  Cyclist.  Triathlete.  ESPN's ARETE Courage in Sports Award Winner.  ESPY Nominee.  Motivational Speaker.  Paralympian.


At an age when most children must be reminded to brush their teeth or take out the trash, Rudy Garcia-Tolson was charting his course to Ironman Triathlon victory and Paralympic gold.   Unfortunately, that road was paved with significant challenges.  Born with multiple birth defects, Rudy endured 15 surgeries by the age of five before telling his parents he would prefer a double leg amputation.  Soon after, Rudy began to swim and run, participating in his first triathlon at age 8, as the swimmer in a winning relay team.  By age 10, on a visit to Ossur in Iceland, provided product input which became key in the development of the Flex-Run prosthesis.  Shortly thereafter, Rudy completed the first of many individual triathlons.

“That’s the moment that I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

Competitive sports became a powerful physical outlet and source of motivation, prompting the young Rudy to promise he would swim in the 2004 Paralympics. Eight years later, he made good on his promise when he swam to gold at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games and again in Beijing 2008. Rudy continued competing in triathlons and in 2009 at Ironman Arizona, he became the first double above-knee amputee to complete a full Ironman Triathlon.

On a day-to-day basis, Rudy uses Össur’s Pro-Flex XC and Sport Liners with Pin System and Össur’s Flex-Run and Cheetah Xtend for athletics.  As a four-time Paralympian (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016) and five-time medalist, Rudy devotes himself to inspiring the younger generation of challenged athletes reminding them to “never let people tell you that you can’t do something.  Prove them wrong.  The only disability in life is a negative attitude.”

Athletic Accomplishments

Paralympic Games
  • Five-time Paralympian (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016;2020); Five-time medalist (2 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze)
  • Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games - 7th in 200m IM, 6th 100m breaststroke, 8th 4x100m Freestyle Relay 34 points
  • Rio 2016 Paralympic Games - Silver medal (200m IM),6th (100m breaststroke) 6th 4x100m Freestyle Relay 34 points
  • London 2012 Paralympic Games, Silver (200m IM), 6th (34 pt. 4x100m medley); Track and Field, 9th (200m T42)
  • Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, Gold (200m IM), Bronze (100m breast), 7th (34 pt. 4x100m medley), 9th (400m free), 12th (100m fly), 13th (100m back)
  • Athens 2004 Paralympic Games, Gold (200m IM), 5th (100m breast), 7th (34 pt. 4x100m medley), 9th (100m fly)
  • Joins Jessica Long and Cody Bureau as the only members of the U.S. Paralympic Swimming Team to compete in four Paralympic Games (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016)
World Championship Experience
  • Most recent: 2015 – 4th (200m IM), 6th (100m breast, 34 pt. 100m medley), 7th (34 pt. 4x100m free)
  • Years of Participation: 2002, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2013 (track and field), 2015
  • Medals: 6 (2 gold, 1 silver, 3 bronze)
  • Gold – 2006 (200m IM), 2010 (200m IM)
  • Silver – 2013 (long jump)
  • Bronze – 2009 (200m IM, 20 pt. 4x50m free), 2010 (100m breast)




Competitive Class

SM7 and SB6


Bilateral, Above the Knee

Main Events

100m Breaststroke, 200m Individual Medley