Rudy Garcia Tolson


Swimming (para)

Served as envoy

  • 2020  –  Virtual
  • 2023  –  Virtual
  • 2023  –  Vietnam

Rudy Garcia-Tolson was born September 14th, 1988 in Bloomington, California. The youngest of 4 children. At age five, having already undergone 15 surgeries to correct a rare birth defect, Garcia-Tolson elected to amputate both legs above the knee. He opted for greater mobility and a full, active life with prosthetics. Undaunted, he began swimming, then running, and has been winning ever since! By age 15, he had won a Gold medal in the Paralympic Games breaking world records in swimming.

When he was eight years old, he stated that he would swim in the 2004 Paralympic Games. He was true to his word and won the gold medal in the 200 meter individual medley and broke the world record for his SM7 class.

In 2008 Beijing Paralympics, when he was 20, he again won the gold medal in the 200 meter Individual Medley event, breaking his own SM7 world record twice in the process. He also won bronze medal in 100m breaststroke SB7.

At the 2012 Paralympics in London, he broke the SM7 world record in 200 meter Individual Medley heat. In the final, both he and Yevheniy Bohodayko swam faster still. Bohodayko touched the wall first; Garcia-Tolson won silver.

As part of 2012 Paralympics, Rudy also qualified and competed on 100 meters and 200 meters track and field.

At the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Garcia-Tolson broke his PR (personal record) and gain back the AR (American Record) in 100m breaststroke SB7. In the 200meter Individual Medley again he broke his PR and won silver.

Rudy has spoken across the country to groups ranging from Fortune 500 companies to inner city public schools.

His blend of energy and humor inspires organizations and individuals to adopt his swim motto, No Legs No Limits, A Brave Heart is a Powerful Weapon, as their new standard of excellence

Rudy shares stories about choosing to amputate his legs at a young age, swimming in the Paralympics, and playing jokes with his prothetic legs to give motivation for overcoming adversity and reaching peak performance.