I met Gary at a bar. You see, he’s a bartender at one of my favorite places in San Diego- The Field. So, for a while he only knew me as a beer drinker 🙂 He’s a great guy, an attentive bartender and I absolutely love to hear his Irish accent. I started teaching his twins, Cian and Cadhla, how to swim a while back, and Gary mentioned that he doesn’t swim. Well, everyone has his own definition of ‘swim,’ so I figured he couldn’t swim laps, but was probably fine in the water. But, now that the twins are swimming so well, there has been talk of a trip to Hawaii next fall and Gary has not been very excited. Fortunately, this prompted him to participate in Project: Face in Water. I took my cousin, Daylen, with me.
Gary is a full on dude. If you only knew him from his Facebook page, you’d probably think he was a total jerk! It consists of football banter, sarcasm, and a lot of f*bombs. He likes to call people out and give opponents a very hard time 🙂 In fact, his wife (a kindergarten teacher) told me she’s not even friends with him on Facebook- probably for the best.
I always try to hold on to a student a bit tighter than he holds me- so he feels secure. This was challenging with Gary. He’s a solid, strong man and had a firm grip on my forearms. He was motivated though and trusted me, which is the most important thing. It was a good, intense hour of work. Like so many of my adults, he would swim, pick his head up out of the water, wipe his face with his hand and immediately tell me what he did wrong. At one point, he stood up after pushing off the wall and swimming by himself (the first time without fins) and I freaked out with excitement- “Look at you! You swam!” “Yea, about five yards,” Gary said sarcastically. “Yea, five yards more than you’ve swum in 39 years!” Sometimes I have to remind my swimmers that they’re doing something they haven’t done their entire life!
When he felt good about accomplishing a skill, Gary would nod his head and say, “Good stuff, good stuff.” He would stand up, get a little excited and say, “That was good” or “Okay, I get it.” He was really focused. Finally, at one point, he put his feet down, looked at Daylen and said, “I just swam!”
In the end, not only is Gary an amazing dad, husband and bartender, but by next fall, he’ll be an amazing swimmer as well so he can take the family to Hawaii (and of course the family swim teacher, right?).