CHARLOTTE — Jeremy Knowles, a member of the Bahamas Olympic swim team, will start a new job as a fourth grade teacher at Hickory Grove Baptist Christian School in Charlotte when he returns to the United States from Beijing.
“Jeremy can connect. He’s got a calling, a God-given natural ability with these students,” Henry Ward, head of the 1,055-student private school that is a ministry of Hickory Grove Baptist Church, told The Charlotte Observer. “I’ve interviewed a lot of teachers, and he’s beyond his years in his insight.”
Knowles, a 26-year-old native of the Bahamas, is a graduate of Auburn University, where he was an All-American swimmer. He finished sixth in his heat Aug. 11 in the men’s 200 meter butterfly preliminaries with a time of 2:01:08, behind Taipei’s Chi-Chieh Hsu who won in 1:56:59. Knowles will compete again in the 200 meter individual medley Aug. 13 and in the 100 meter butterfly Aug. 14.
At age 18, Knowles competed in the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, and he also participated in Athens in 2004. The Observer said he comes from a legendary Olympic family in the Bahamas, given that his grandfather and great-uncle competed in Olympic sailing and his father Andy Knowles was an Olympic swimmer who now coaches the Bahamian swim team.
The Observer also noted that Knowles is most famous in the Bahamas for swimming 30 miles across open water from Exuma to Nassau when he was just 16. The feat had not been accomplished by anyone except a team of relay swimmers, the newspaper said, but Knowles finished in 15 hours.
At Hickory Grove, Knowles will teach science, math and religion during his first year. He was hired after presenting a practice lesson to students, The Observer said, and Ward described the presentation as a gold medal performance. Before he left for Beijing, Knowles started decorating his new classroom and told his students he would have high expectations for them in the midst of some fun they would have together when he returned.
Hickory Grove Baptist Christian School, on its web site, says its teachers seek to train students in how to have a biblical worldview, and the school’s mission statement is “to know Christ and to make Him known through Christian education.” All teachers, the site says, “love Jesus, children and teaching.”
Knowles’ wife Heather, whom he met at church in Auburn, said her husband is humble despite being an Olympic athlete. He doesn’t often brag, she said.
“You’ve got to drag things out of him,” Heather Knowles told The Observer.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Compiled by BP staff writer Erin Roach.)