Then there’s the story of my friend Gerry Dunn, who found common ground with his 14-year-old daughter in the water, and revived his own fitness program along the way.
Two or three times a week, Gerry and his daughter Brighid, who goes by the nickname “Bridie,” fling themselves head over heels off diving boards at the Kennedy Shriver Aquatic Center in North Bethesda. Together.
Gerry, a 52-year-old real estate broker, is a masters diver, just a few months removed from his first local and regional competitions but already training for indoor and outdoor nationals this summer. Bridie is a freshman who has earned a spot on the competitive Churchill High School swimming and diving team and also dives in club meets.
“I did get on the board, I did lose the weight and I did get back in the pool,” Gerry says, the satisfaction evident in his voice. “And I’m spending the time with Brighid. And she may [occasionally] find it a pain in the a--. But I’m cherishing it.”
Some disclosure is in order here. The Dunn family — Gerry, his wife, Nancy, their older daughter, Sean, and Bridie — are friends of ours. We’ve known them almost since we moved to town 13 years ago. They live in our neighborhood and Bridie goes to school with my younger daughter.
I knew that Gerry dived for St. Bonaventure on a partial scholarship 30 years ago, but I didn’t realize that he had taken up the sport again until he mentioned it recently. “During summer swim league, I was asked to be a [diving] judge a couple of times,” he recalled. “You’re judging these kids. Some are very respectful, and then you have the whippersnappers, and the kid in the background who’s saying, ‘Oh my God, this guy doesn’t know what he’s doing.’
“And in my head, I’m saying, ‘You know what, kid, I can do this dive twice as well as you can.’ And then I looked down, and 30 years of drinking and not doing anything had taken its toll.”
Gerry started walking, worked out an exercise program with a trainer at the gym, cut out the alcohol and excess calories and went on a high-protein diet. Between July and September he dropped 25 pounds.
About the same time, Bridie, a soccer player and competitive Irish dancer, went off to diving camp. She came back a convert. Gone were soccer and dancing. She now trains as often as six times a week at the sport she loves.
And then Gerry got this idea about maybe, well, y’know, training, like, together.
“She sort of rolled her eyes, like any teenage kid,” he said. “Like, ‘Okay, Dad.”