For 30 years, Ken Buchanan has led the Red Bank Gators swim team. While other teams in the league have seen coaches come and go, Buchanan has stuck with the Gators through good times and bad, coaching them through all three divisions of the Chattanooga Area Swim League.
In honor of his dedication to the team and to the sport, the pool that he's driven to early each morning for the last 30 summers has been renamed after him.
"It's really surreal as about anything I could have expected," Buchanan said. "It's not like I like being out in the front. I'm just doing it to teach the kids."
Buchanan has seen generations go through his program. The swimmers he coached early in his career now have children of their own who are on the team. That growth, he said, is one of the driving factors behind why he's stuck with the program for so long.
"It's become more like family than a job," said Buchanan. "I look forward to seeing the kids again in the summer, and when we get new kids, it's an opportunity to forge new relationships."
He said the team has seen a surge of new members over the past few years, helping to bolster its number of wins.
The Gators recently concluded this season undefeated in their division of the swim league and will advance to the next division next summer. Though they'll have to prove themselves against tougher opponents, Buchanan said he's looking forward to the challenge.
"We've got a lot of first-timers and they've amazed me with how they've taken to learning the strokes," he said.
Some of those first-timers may end up working for Buchanan one day. By his estimate, roughly half the pool staff has swum under his coaching.
"Hopefully I've done something to help them develop," said Buchanan. "You really get to know them as a person."
For more information about the Red Bank Gators, visit redbankgators.swim-team.us.
Email Shane Foley at firstname.lastname@example.org.