When an athlete makes an Olympic team, it’s the pinnacle of their career. There is no higher honor in sports than representing your country in athletic competition. That sentiment is held by both the U.S. Olympic swimmer you’ve never heard of and the multimillion-dollar NBA player with multiple titles to his credit.
On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, and one of the darkest days in American history, a two-time gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic swimmer who achieved success alongside Michael Phelps, not only participated in the chaos at the U.S. Capitol, he proudly wore his U.S. Olympic team jacket in the middle of it all, making him clearly identifiable on video for all to see.
U.S. Olympic swimmer Klete Keller won five Olympic medals in career
Klete Keller isn’t a name most sports fans recognize, like Michael Phelps. While Keller’s name might not be memorable, his performance in the 2004 Athens Olympics was as he teamed with Phelps, Ryan Lochte, and Peter Vanderkaay to capture gold in the 4×200-meter relay.
In that particular event, Phelps started the race and Keller finished strong on the anchor leg, holding off Australia’s Ian Thorpe to win gold and exact revenge after winning bronze behind the Aussie in the 400-meter freestyle just days before. Keller also won bronze in the 400-meter event at the 2000 games, with Thorpe winning gold.
Klete Keller’s gold medal in the 2004 Games was the first of two for the U.S. Olympic swimmer. He won gold again on the same relay team in 2008 at the Beijing Olympics. In 2000, he won silver in the same event.
Interestingly, in a 2014 interview with NBC Sports, Keller said he wasn’t sure about the whereabouts of several medals saying, “I could not really care less about the medals themselves, which would explain why I don’t know where three of them are.”
U.S. Olympic swimmer Klete Keller struggles after Olympics
In 2014, U.S. Olympic swimmer Klete Keller went through a divorce, and his life spiraled out of control. He fell into a deep depression. Then, he became homeless.
“I was paying child support for my kids and couldn’t afford a place, so I lived in my car for almost a year,” Keller said, according to USA Swimming. “I had a Ford Fusion at the time, so at 6-foot-6, it was challenging to make the room to sleep. But I made it work.”
Eventually, the former U.S. Olympic swimmer got back on his feet and made a living by teaching swimming lessons and operating swim clinics. In 2018, he started a career as an independent contractor at a real estate firm in Colorado Springs.
Attends pro-Trump rally and video shows him inside U.S. Capitol
After years of making headlines as a U.S. Olympic swimmer, Klete Keller is now in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Keller was present last Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol as protests turned into a violent full-scale riot.
Video shows the 6-foot-6 Keller towering over the others who had stormed the Capitol as he stood in the middle of the chaos while rioters pushed forward in violent confrontations with police. In addition to his size, the 38-year-old stands out because he’s wearing his U.S. Olympic team jacket that had “USA” printed across the back and down the sleeves.
The video doesn’t show the U.S. Olympic swimmer involved in any violent acts inside the Capitol, but his presence inside the building could potentially put him in legal jeopardy. Officials have charged numerous people who entered the building with federal charges, including unlawful entry and disorderly conduct.
On Tuesday night, the real estate firm Keller worked for sent out a statement to the media that he had resigned. It’s yet another twist in the bizarre story of Klete Keller. And it’s not over.