Staff Photo: John Bohn Swimming coach David Ellwanger poses for a portrait at the Morning View pool in Suwanee. Ellwanger coaches a summer league team at Morning View.
Two years ago, David Ellwanger was just like any other teacher during the summer.
The North Gwinnett human geography teacher took time off to relax, teach a few summer school sessions and go on vacation.
Then Ellwanger found out his grandchildren would be participating in the Gwinnett County Swim League.
That's all it took to get the longtime swim coach back on the swim deck.
Ellwanger, who is the head swim coach at North, has been a swim coach for 35 years. Many of his summers have been spent as an instructor, including the last two as the head coach for the Morning View swim team.
"When the grandbabies got interested in swimming, it was kind of a natural fit to be there and spend time with them," Ellwanger said.
Ellwanger is the head coach for Morning View and has familiar assistants by his side. One of his former swimmers, Kara Taylor, coaches alongside him. His daughter Lindsey, who was a lifeguard for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, coaches the Mini Mantas of 3- to 5-year-olds. With his three grandchildren -- Aiden, 8, Riley, 6 and Wylder, 3 -- it makes the summer swim season a lot of fun.
"With the grandbabies, I couldn't pass it up," Ellwanger said.
Ellwanger grew up in Atlanta where he attended Briarcliff High School. He broke the state record in the 100 breaststroke in 1973 as a senior but didn't swim yearround, which is unheard these days.
"You didn't swim with goggles back then," Ellwanger said. "When you finished you got out of the pool and cried because the chlorine was so bad."
Ellwanger swam for the University of Georgia where he was teammates with Jack Bauerle, who is now the Bulldogs' head coach.
Ellwanger came to Gwinnett in the late 70s, starting the swim program at Parkview. At the time, there were no pools in Gwinnett County and the team had to go to DeKalb County to swim. They only practiced three times a week and team members had to pay $1 to practice at the YMCA pool.
Despite the obstacles, Parkview placed third in the boys state meet in 1981.
Ellwanger spent 10 years as a coach in DeKalb at Redan and Miller Grove. Along with Rick Creed, the duo won numerous county swim titles.
He returned to Gwinnett in 1999 to take over as North's swim coach.
"I always wanted to teach and coach a little closer to where I went to church and North was a good fit," Ellwanger said.
During his years as high school teacher, Ellwanger also coached and started several summer swim teams. He began the Cumming Waves program and helped start the Collins Hill program in the Richland subdivision.
"I hope I treat every kids on the swim team like they are my own," Ellwanger said.
Ellwanger was solely focused on high school swimming until his grandchildren became involved with the sport.
He was at the practices and all of the meets, so it only seemed right to become more involved as a coach.
"I thought as long as I'm watching grandbabies, I might was well help coach," Ellwanger said.
Morning View has 260 swimmers on the team, which excites Ellwanger as a high school coach.
"These summer leagues are the lifeblood of the high school teams," he said.
The Gwinnett County Swim League season ends July 14-15.
"Scoring at county is kind what we are pointing towards," Ellwanger said.
Ellwanger, who has been married to his wife Stormie for 35 years, isn't planning on leaving the sport anytime soon. He'd like to continue to watch and coach his grandchildren a little while longer.
"It's a lot of fun. It's a family affair," Ellwanger said. "I love it. I hope they keep me around for a long time."