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'I'm in awe': Father of Bobby Finke reflects after son smashed American record in 800-meter freestyle

The Clearwater native later won the gold medal in the finals, setting another American record in the process.

TOKYO, Japan — "I kind of expected him to break the American record in the 800, but I thought he would do it at finals, not at prelims," Bobby Finke's dad, Joe Finke, said after watching his son break the American record.

In Tuesday's preliminary 800-meter freestyle event, Bobby Finke from Clearwater came in at 7:42.72 to win his heat and become the new American record holder. The title was formerly held by Michael McBroom with a time of 7:43.60, set in 2013.

Bobby previously swam a time of 7:48.22 in the 800-meter freestyle to qualify for the Olympic team in June.

His dad, Joe Finke, is more than proud of what his son has accomplished. 

"Making the Olympic team was the ice cream," he said. "Making finals is the whipped cream on top of that and if he gets a medal, that’s a cherry on top of that."

Bobby Finke started swimming just before turning a year old and he started swimming competitively when he was 6. His dad said he won his first trophy when he was around 7 years old. 

Now at 21, the swimmer is a member of the University of Florida men's swim team. Prior to his newest title set in the Olympic prelims, Bobby Finke holds records in the SEC and NCAA, according to the university's sports site

When speaking of the mark his son has left, Joe Finke was almost speechless. 

"I'm in awe of Bobby," his dad said. 

And his dad had even more or a reason to be in awe of his son. Bobby Finke broke his own record to win gold at the Olympics in the first-ever 800-meter freestyle Wednesday night.

Going into the competition in third, Finke beat out Ukraine’s Mykhailo Romanchuck and Germany’s Florian Wellbrock who were seeded at first and second.

His time of 7:41.87 beat out his opponent by less than half a second. Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri settled for silver after leading most of the race, while Romachuk of Ukraine took bronze.

RELATED: Clearwater native Bobby Finke wins gold in 800-meter freestyle, sets new American record

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