Davis Tarwater with his Olympic gold medal! Photo courtesy: SwimMAC Carolina
Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and the rest of the men's relay team are bringing home gold after winning the 4x200 freestyle race.
One of the men who got them to the finals earlier in the day was Knoxville's Davis Tarwater. After failing to qualify in the Olympic trials, Tarwater was unexpectedly called back to join the Olympic team.
The Webb graduate swam in a preliminary relay, qualifying his team for the finals.
Tarwater was not asked to swim in that final race Tuesday night, but as a member of the relay team, he will receive a gold medal too.
When 10News talked to Davis Tarwater Tuesday evening, he was sitting in his Olympic Village room, still reeling from the day's events. He says he is humbled to bring the gold back home to East Tennessee.
"I played this day over and over in my head for 20 years of my life before this, and I just couldn't imagine how special it was going to be in real life when it actually happened," he said. "You know, standing up there in front of 20,000 people with the stars and the stripes on-- it was just surreal for me."
But before his Olympic debut, Tarwater made big waves on this side of the pond.
A standout swimmer at Webb School in Knoxville, he continued his career into college and beyond.
After a brief retirement, he came back for another attempt at an Olympic run.
"His story is so unique that beyond anything else, we're just thankful. We are so thankful that he was able to make the team and we are so thankful that the coaches chose to give him an opportunity to help that relay," said Dwight Tarwater, Davis' father.
Tarwater swam Tuesday's preliminary heat and watched from the deck as his four teammates competed in the final race.
"It was so great to be able to cheer them on, and to you know, be a part of that this morning, in helping get ourselves set up in a position and help take some of the pressure off our two big guns, Lochte and Phelps, so they could rest and be at their best," he said.
Their best guaranteed the win.
"My son Davis is an Olympic gold medalist," said Dwight Tarwater with pride.
And now a warm welcome awaits his return home.
"I'm just so thrilled and honored to be recognized by this community. I couldn't be any more proud to represent Knoxville the community in London."
Tarwater says he will stay in London until the games end, then plans on touring parts of Europe with friends.
As for his swimming career, he doesn't know what happens next, but plans to take some time off for a much-needed break.