Forty Under 40: Sports
BY Advocate.com Editors
May 06 2009 12:00 AM ET
Andrew Langenfeld | Swimmer | 22 | Centralia, Ill.
Here are the numbers. At the 2009 Big Ten swimming championships, Purdue University's Andrew Langenfeld, 22, 6 foot 6, did the 50-meter freestyle in 19.34 seconds, breaking a record established in 2005. This new benchmark in the fastest race in men's swimming marked a resurgence for Langenfeld after some setbacks including an emergency appendectomy and a failed bid to swim alongside a certain other U.S. swimmer in Beijing. It was around the time of those Olympic trials that Langenfeld had his first taste of notoriety, when the press outed him to his grandparents and a few friends from home. Although initially blindsided, Langenfeld used the sudden exposure to launch his nonprofit, Our Group, aimed at supporting and connecting LGBT student athletes. "Within sports circles, things are usually about 10 years behind the rest of society," he says. Before entering Purdue (where he'll graduate in December), he dated a closeted swim teammate at West Virginia University; their breakup was so painful that he transferred. So what about London in 2012? The foreign-language student and theater buff (he's taught his teammates to hum show tunes) says, "If I can continue to swim well, it's definitely in the cards. I might stick it out -- but [three] years is a long time."