David Plummer's Olympic medal is bronze, not gold, but there's no doubt he's a champion to a whole lot of people in Minnesota.
Since winning bronze in the 100 meter backstroke on Monday evening, the former University of Minnesota All-American swimmer – and current coach of the Wayzata High School boy's team – has received a lot of congratulatory messages.
But the folks at NBC surprised him live on Facebook with a stack of letters from his swimmers and fellow staff at Wayzata that proved especially poignant. As he read them aloud, Plummer paused several times to recover his composure.
Plummer, who is 30, began coaching the Wayzata boys in 2013, after missing a spot in the Olympics by .12 of a second the previous year.
That 2013 Wayzata team won the state 2A championship and Plummer was named Minnesota's Coach of the Year. A team member recalled in one of the letters how Plummer had insisted his swimmers pose with him for his Coach of the Year photo (right).
Plummer fended off tears as he continued reading letters and muttered "I knew I should be nervous about these."
"Mean little kids!"
Another swimmer wrote "It's hard to be a first year coach and make such an impact on everyone's life, but you did."
Wayzata's principal told Plummer "You are twice the role model you are the swimmer."
One of his swimmers called Plummer's dedication to the sport relentless, noting he's raising two young children while also training and coaching. (During the fall Plummer is a volunteer assistant for the Minnetonka High School girls team, which is coached by one of his former U of M teammates.)
Another writer advised his coach to "Take a couple deep breaths and look around. You're at the Olympics and you just won a medal."
When he finished reading, Plummer paused before wiping away a tear and said "Mean little kids!... Saying such nice things."
ESPN says his swimmers have learned Plummer is uncomfortable being the center of attention. So naturally they enjoy singing "Happy Birthday" to him at restaurants – any day of the year – and encourage other diners to join in.
12 News caught up with a few of the Wayzata swimmers.
Didn't sleep much
When asked by NBC if he had anything to say to his swim team back in Minnesota, Plummer replied "Thanks for everything. I learned as much from you guys as you did from me, I promise."
He was also asked if he took off his medal to go to sleep Monday night. He gave a yes and no answer. Yes, he took off the medal. But he didn't really get any sleep.
Plummer is also part of the U.S. 4x100 medley relay team that will compete in heats beginning Friday.