Olympic Gold Medalist, Matt Biondi, enjoying quiet life in Waimea
How does one go about making the transition from World Record Holder to classroom teacher in a tiny school out in Waimea?
That is just what Matt Biondi has done, living a quiet life for the past 11 years while teaching and coaching at Parker School.
Biondi has achieved twelve world swimming records, 11 Olympic medals, including 8 gold and was a four time All-American in both swimming and water polo.
Matt Biondi, a super hero both in and out of the pool as he continues to do remarkable things by expanding young minds in the classroom.
Biondi first competed at the age of five and even then you could tell he was destined for big things as in the final race of the season he set the age group record by swimming the freestyle event in 16.2 seconds.
But most of Biondi’s success, as he will tell you, has been built on his failure.
“We should all experience what it’s like to be embarrassed and to fail,” Biondi said. “It is just the normal process that we go through in order to succeed.”
Biondi set many national and collegiate records throughout his youth and while attending the University of California at Berkeley played on the NCAA water polo championship team as a freshman in 1983.
In 1984 he won his first Olympic gold medal in Los Angeles and in the ’88 Olympics added five gold, one silver and a bronze medal during the Seoul, Korea games.
But Biondi wasn’t done, in ’92 he returned to Barcelona and helped the U.S. relay team in winning two gold medals and added an individual silver medal in the 50 meter freestyle event.
“In my first race during the ’88 Olympics, the 200 free, I swam my second fastest time ever and finished third, Biondi said. “I felt really good and I knew I did well.”
Biondi married a local girl, Kirsten, who is originally from Manoa on Oahu and the family decided to make Hawaii their home.
“We moved to Waimea eleven years ago and we’re really happy here,” Biondi said.
Back during his highly competitive swimming days Biondi was logging 6 miles per day in the pool and I wanted to know what this 6 foot 2 inch man was doing to stay in shape after a world breaking career in sports competition?
“During my competitive high school years I weighed in at 137 pounds and my teammates would call me ‘stickman’ due to my slender build and size 14 shoes,” he said.
By college, through a weight lifting program and hard work, Biondi bulked up and by the 1988 Olympics weighed in at 210 pounds.
“I currently weigh 215,” Biondi said. “The muscle is mostly gone, but the bulk is still here.”
To stay in shape Biondi swims three times per week with the Academy Masters Swim Team at the Hawaii Prep pool.
“I will swim one mile and use a typical water kick, or the butterfly and other strokes,” he said.
For cross training Biondi will rely on home chores to keep him in shape.
“I’ll mow the grass and do other things, like stretching along with abdomen curls followed by pushups and sit ups,” he said.
As for diet Biondi claims he is on the ‘See Food’ diet.
“If I see it, I’ll eat it,” Biondi said with a chuckle. “But seriously we eat healthy as a family with whole foods and try to stay away from processed foods.”
One of the many things the Biondi family enjoys is fruit smoothies with Chia seeds thrown in.
“We’ll have a variety of fruits mixed in with Mila Chia seeds,” Biondi said. “I’ve seen and heard really good results by using these supplemental seeds and our entire family enjoys drinking them.”
Biondi has three children, Nate (12), Luke (9) and Makena (4) with the two oldest attending Parker School.
“When I ended my competitive career my wife and I were looking for a small town in Hawaii to live in and Waimea is the perfect place for me,” he said. “I live just 5 minutes from work and everything is close by.”
Biondi is the math teacher at Parker School where he teaches grades from 5th through 12th.
“This year they made me the Math Department Chair which is new to me, but I’m enjoying it,” he said.
Along with his full time job as a math teacher Biondi has also been called upon to coach, what else, but swimming at Parker.
“Unfortunately there wasn’t enough interest at Parker, partly because we don’t have a pool and all our practices were held at the Honokaa pool, so the athletic department cut the sport,” he said.
HPA then recruited the highly talented athlete to coach water polo and Biondi has been helping Ka Makani athletes for the past several years.
The soon to be 46 year old, Biondi is living the life he had hoped for after athletics and living in a town that fits into his everyday lifestyle.
“I feel most alive when teaching because working with kids provides me a very fulfilling life,” Biondi said. “My brother was an educator and at the time I live veraciously through him.”
And someday should you happen to see a happily retired teacher jogging the streets of Hawaiian Paradise Park remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from Running with the Big Dog.”
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