With longevity comes perks, often in the form of things rarely achieved. How about coaching three generations from the same family?
Art Downey is in his 59th year as the Edina boys’ swimming coach, or as he calls it, ‘‘the ninth year of my second 50.” The tireless Downey has already had an aquatic center named after him. Now he can say that he has coached three generations of swimmers from the same family.
One of the members of Downey’s first team at Edina, in the 1956-57, season was then-sophomore Richie May. “He was a good swimmer, one of our better freestylers,” Downey said. “He swam in the state meet as a junior and a senior. I think he was on the team that finished sixth in the 200 free relay as a junior.”
Beginning in 1979-80, Downey coached Rich May Jr., then a ninth-grader. Downey remembers him as a breast-stroke specialist for the old Edina East team.
“In his senior year, he was on a relay that finished sixth in the section meet,” Downey recalled. “Our team finished sixth, too. Our team wasn’t strong then.”
For the past three years, Downey has been coaching senior Morgan May, the grandson of Richie and son of Rich Jr. “He’s worked his way to becoming a varsity swimmer,” Downey said. “He’s not a big gun, but he’s a good contributor.”
Downey won’t give his exact age, referring to himself as 28. “That’s all I’ll admit to,” he said.
Downey laughed when asked if he would still be around for the fourth generation of Mays.
“I’ve been privileged to coach three generations from one family,” he said. “They’re getting older, but I’m not. We were taking a photo of the four of us together and they said ‘Put the young guy in front.’ I said ‘Who, me?’ ’’
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