Staff Photo: Jason Braverman
Scot Davis is a swim instructor at SwimAtlanta in Lawrenceville.
Scot Davis, 30, is a swim instructor at SwimAtlanta in Lawrenceville. The son of owner and coach Chris Davis, Scot won state swimming titles at Duluth High School before moving on and swimming at Georgia.
In this installment of “Getting to Know...” Davis talks with staff writer Ben Beitzel about finding his own way to swimming, traveling in Australia and teaching a 300-plus-pound football player to swim.
BB: With a father as a swim coach, you had to start swimming very early.
SD: Actually I grew up playing baseball and soccer. Swimming was in the summer. When I was 13, and I tell the kids (I coach) also, was when you decide and I decided swimming was going to be my main sport. Actually, my dad encouraged us not to swim, at least starting out. I think he wanted us to see all aspects of sports. Both of us, me and my brother (Chris), gravitated toward swimming for some reason. Probably because we were always around the pool. It was something that was natural.
BB: Was there a particular moment when realized you wanted to pursue swimming?
SD: I made a zone team, which is a qualifying meet. You got to go to Texas. So it was like the first real taste of success and I thought, ‘This is pretty cool.’ That was something that I earned. In swimming you earn it yourself. It is a little less of a team sport than other sports and I thought that was cool. I did it myself.
BB: What were you best at in swimming?
SD: Distance free and IM. All the stuff people don’t want to watch. Somebody has to do it.
BB: The IM can be interesting, the distance free...
SD: ...Distance free can be a snoozer, but you have to do what you are good at.
BB: As a coach, what do you like to watch?
SD: Everything, to be honest. You get the instant gratification from the 50, but if you see a kid swim a great mile, it is just as satisfying as seeing a kid swim a great 50.
BB: Did you always want to come back and coach here? How did that work out?
SD: There was a position that became available right when I graduated. It opened in the fall and I spent the summer working for a summer-league team and traveling the country. I kind of used that summer as a little fun time.
BB: Nice. What did you do?
SD: I went to Maine for a while, went to Vermont. Went out and visited a buddy in L.A. Went ... went wherever the wind blew me. It was cool. I had a lot of fun. I went and visited friends that I went to school with that I had swam with that had sort of branched off.
BB: Swimming has probably taken you all across the country and outside the country.
SD: When I was 16, we took a training trip to Australia and stayed with host families for a week and a half. That was probably the coolest swimming experience I can remember. You were immersed in the Australian culture and I have always said if there was a place I could go back for three weeks that is the place I would go. We were in Sydney and it was phenomenal.
BB: What do you remember most?
SD: Just the people. The people were so laid back. They don’t get caught up on the hustle and bustle like Americans do. Their term, ‘No worries’ is totally true, they don’t have any worries. They just live, which is awesome.
BB: Did you get anywhere else in the country or were you just in Sydney?
SD: We were a little north, where we trained. We trained in the Olympic pool and we did all the touristy things. We jammed as much into a week and a half as we could. We did an opera tour, a harbor tour, we saw the fireworks on New Year’s Eve, we saw the bridge light up. We did as much as we could in a week and a half while training twice a day.
BB: Was it cool celebrating New Year’s almost a day in advance of people in the U.S.?
SD: It was, but you really don’t notice it when you are there. It was cool, though. The fireworks there are unbelievable. You see the bridge, and it’s crazy.
BB: I guess that was before cell phones really could allow you to call back home.
SD: You couldn’t call then.
BB: Did you swim in the ocean at all?
SD: We did a 6K open-water swim around the place called Shark Island, which was pretty cool. I think the water temp was like 62. It was crazy cold. That is probably the most memorable week and a half that I’ve had. It was just non-stop for a straight week and a half. It was awesome.
BB: What was the best thing to do there, other than swimming? Do I have to go for New Year’s?
SD: (Pause) It was probably the harbor tour that we did. We got on a boat, they served us lunch and we cruised through the Sydney harbor. You got to see all the houses there. We saw Mel Gibson’s house. All the celebrities have houses. It was super cool. You are just on this big yacht cruising through the harbor.
BB: That was pre-Mel Gibson meltdown, too.
SD: (laughing) That’s true.
BB: What is swimming like in college? It is an overlooked sport in general, but when you were there did people on campus know it was going on?
SD: Yes and no. It was cool because when I was at Georgia all the athletes ate together for lunch so it built an athletic fraternity of sorts. You would be eating with the football players, the basketball players, the baseball players. We had quite a few of our fellow athletes come out and support us. I think amongst the athletes it was well-respected, but among the student body it was ... overlooked is probably a good adjective to describe it.
BB: Well, there are plenty of schools that don’t have swim teams.
SD: That is true. We probably drew a couple hundred at a meet. Half of them parents, but ...
BB: It’s not like you are going to hear a big crowd anyway.
SD: No, you can’t.
BB: What football players did you eat with? I guess that was post Hines Ward.
SD: Yeah, it was post Hines Ward. Guys like Richard Seymour, Quincy Carter, David Greene. Greene and (Davey) Pollack used to come to quite a few of the meets. Reggie Brown dated a girl on the team for a little bit so he would come.
Actually, a funny story, I work out at the Forum over on 141 and Richard Seymour works out there and we had a chance to teach him to swim this summer. He wanted to work on his cardio without running because of his knees. He came here probably six or seven times and we would teach him to swim. That was pretty cool trying to teach a 330-pound guy to move up and down the pool. But my man had a stroke on him. He was good.
BB: I guess athletes are going to be good at about anything.
SD: That’s true.
BB: Was he diving in?
SD: We didn’t do any diving. I didn’t want to risk anything. I didn’t want to take a chance of him diving and going to the bottom. I didn’t want to be responsible.
BB: Swimming can probably be as good or better for cardio than running.
SD: He would get out of here gassed.
BB: Did you meet your wife, Megan, swimming?
SD: She was a lifeguard at the pool when I was swimming up at Georgia.
BB: She didn’t save you or you didn’t pretend to need saving did you?
SD: No, nothing cheesy like that. We met through a friend on the team. She life guarded throughout college. She life guarded in high school and she needed a job in college and it was easy. Now she runs the swim meets up there, she runs the computer system for the college dual meets. It’s kind of a connected swimming family.
BB: For an individual sport, swimming seems to run in families.
SD: I think because it is so time consuming, it is almost ... If Johnny is four years older than Susie and Johnny has to go to the pool so many times, while you are here you might as well (swim). It just catches on. It is almost convenience that everybody becomes a swimming family.
BB: Do you spend your vacation swimming at the beach?
SD: We took up surfing. It is something that parallels swimming, but you aren’t practicing. You are outdoors, you are in the water and paddling is the hardest thing for surfers and it is something that just comes natural.
BB: Where do you surf?
SD: We like to go to Costa Rica. We go as a family every Christmas, almost. My dad is not a fan of family Christmas so he uproots the entire family and we go on a surfing trip down to Costa Rica.
BB: That sounds better than snow.
SD: It’s awesome. This past year was the first Christmas here in, I don’t know, eight years.
BB: How much do you swim now?
SD: I don’t swim at all. No, no, no, no, those days have past.
BB: So you just stopped?
SD: When you do it in college and you do it for so long it is just one of those things that is not appealing. I coach a masters group (for older swimmers) and they keep asking me, ‘When are you going to get back in? When are you going to get the itch?’ Well, it’s been seven years and I still don’t have it.