Robert Christian Finke was born in Tampa, Florida on November 6, 1999. Swimming is truly a family affair for the Finkes, as Mom, Jeanne, swam for Ball State and Father, Joe, is a swim coach with St Pete Aquatics. Finke has two older sisters: Autumn Skye Finke who swam for the University of Florida and Ariel Summer Finke who swims for Florida State University. All three kids qualified for the 2016 Olympic Trials.
As a 14 year old age grouper, Finke broke the Florida Age Group State Championships (Flags) 800m freestyle meet record with a time of 8:25.20, And then broke the 1500m freestyle meet record dropping over 15 seconds to race to a 15:56.82.
Finke won the USA Swimming Open Water Junior Nationals by finishing first of all swimmers 18 years old and younger. Additionally, because everyone swims at once, Finke was seventh overall in a field that included the pro open water swimmers as well as collegiate swimmers.
Finke was ranked as the #7 recruit in SwimSwam’s Way Too Early NCAA Recruit Ranks for the class of 2018, and #12 in the Re-rank. On October 13, 2017, Finke announced his verbal commitment to swim at the University of Florida.
Finke was an immediate impact athlete for Florida. At the 2019 SEC Championships, he started things by placing 9th and winning the B-heat in the 500 free (4:14.86). The next night, he led a 1-2-3 Gator sweep in the 400 IM, taking the crown in 3:40.94. To cap off his meet, he led a 1-2 finish in the 1,650 with teammate and fellow freshman Trey Freeman, touching at 14:23.01 to break the SEC Championships and pool record.
At the NCAA Championships, Finke finished 12th in the 1,650 (14:42.75), 25th in the 400 IM (3:45.40), and 43rd in the 500 free (4:20.14).
Last season, Finke won the mile as a freshman at SEC’s with a new SEC Record, narrowly missing the NCAA Record in the process. After he smashed his best in the 500 free (4:10.8) to take bronze on Wednesday, the 1650 free record was on notice tonight. He blew away the field to become the fastest man in history, repeating as champion in 14:12.08.
FINKE’S NCAA, U.S. Open and American Record 1650 splits – 14:12.08 – Feb 22, 2020, SEC Champs
At the 2016 Orlando Arena Pro Swim Series, Finke qualified for the USA Olympic Trials in the 1500m freestyle with a time of 15:46.39 finishing 10th overall. He placed third in the 400IM racing to a 4:23.66, picking up an Olympic Trials cut in that event. He also finished 17th in the 400m freestyle clocking a 3:57.22.
2017 US Nationals/World Championship Trials
Finke qualified for his first World Championships after he won the silver medal in the 1,500 meter freestyle. He swam a new best time of 15:01.31 to secure his place on the roster. At the world championships, Finke placed 21st overall in the 1,500 free at 15:15.15.
2018 U.S. National Championships
Finke was the runnerup in the 1500 freestyle (14:55.34) and third in the 800 freestyle (7:51.45) at the Phillips 66 National Championships, recording personal bests in both events. He also finished first in the B final of the 400 IM (4:15.79, ninth overall) and 17th in the 400 freestyle (personal best 3:52.25).
2018 Pan Pacific Championships
Finke swam a full schedule in Tokyo after qualifying for Pan Pacs. He placed 3rd in the 1,500 with a time of 14:48.70, however since he finished behind 2 other Americans, was not awarded a medal. He also finished 5th in the 800 free (7:52.57) and 8th in prelims in the 400 free (3:51.23).
2019 Summer Nationals
After initially qualifying for World University Games, Finke pulled out due to a wrist injury. He did, however, compete at the 2019 US Nationals. He won titles in the 1,500 (14:51.15), 400 IM (4:13.15), 800 free (7:47.58), and placed 3rd in the 400 free (3:48.17).
2021 Olympic Trials
On night 5, Finke touched 1st in the 800 free, qualifying for his first Olympic team. He added to his event schedule by winning the 1,500 on the final night of competition, cruising to a win in 14:46.06, beating the field by over 14 seconds.
2020 Olympic Games
Finke put an exclamation mark on his first Olympic final, winning the first-ever Olympic iteration of the men’s 800 free. Finke was running 5th for most of the race, even at the 750 mark. Then he turned on the jets, coming home in 26.3 and passing 4 competitors in the last 25 meters to touch first and earn Olympic gold.
Finke did it again in the 1500, sticking with the pack through the whole race and turning it on the last 50, coming home in 25.7 in the last 50 to touch first at 14:39.65, earning his 2nd gold of the Games and the first for USA in the 1500 since 1984.