Smyrna High School's "Coach T" traded scrimmage lines for swimming lanes 30 years ago and has never looked back.
"You never know whose life you are touching," said Tony Trumphour, head of the school's Wellness Department and head coach of the boys and girls swim teams at Smyrna.
"I've had a kid come into the program as a freshman and been in the beginner lane. Then through them working every day and getting a little better, come out for the swim team in their sophomore year, then make it to the regionals by the time they are a senior."
Trumphour was honored by the school Friday night at the halftime of the Smyrna-Riverdale basketball game.
In a county with a competitive team swimming environment, Trumphour has "had some darn good ones over the years." But one student who sticks out in his mind couldn't even swim.
Trumphour also teaches water safety, and several years ago a student approached him about taking the class. Only one problem: "He couldn't swim."
"But he begged me to be in the water safety program," Trumphour said. "I bought him a lifejacket so he could take this class and learn some deck rescues, throwing assists, reaching assists where he didn't have to get in the pool. … He took a family vacation to Florida and saved a young girl's life in the motel swimming pool."
And when Trumphour was honored for his 20th year of coaching, a couple walked up to him and the wife said: "Thank you for teaching my husband how to swim. He saved my mother and father's life when a rip current pulled them out into the ocean on a float."
"He was one of my distance swimmers," Trumphour added.
Trumphour is actually in his 43rd year of teaching and coaching in Smyrna, but the first 13 years were at Thurman Francis Junior High where he was head football coach for eight years and gymnastics coach for 10 years. He was voted Teacher of the Year in 1982 at Thurman Francis.
He has been the head coach of the Smyrna swimming team since the beginning of the program at the start of the 1988-89 school year -- the longest tenure of any swim coach in Rutherford County.
When he was first hired at Smyrna High he coached football and swimming. He was an assistant football coach for two years before deciding to focus exclusively on swimming. Along the way he has helped develop 17 State Meet finalists and 40 Regional Top 8 swimmers.
According to information provided by the school:
His girls teams have gone 118-51
His boys teams have gone 140-29
He was named Rutherford County Coach of the Year for the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 high school swim Seasons. He had county championship swim teams for seven-straight years from 2004-2010.
Trumphour was voted Midstate Swimming Coach of the Year in 2013 and has received the Tom Fay Award in 2016, which recognizes "Lifelong Contributions to the Sport of Swimming," presented by the Middle Tennessee High School Swimming Association.
His own athletic background did feature a water sport, but one with only limited swimming. While a student at MTSU, where he graduated in 1974, he was a member of the Triton Club — an exhibition diving team.
"We did some crazy stuff," he recalled.
He also was on the gymnastics team at MTSU and could ride a unicycle.
Trumphour said one of the rewards is helping a student who may not have succeeded in more high-profile sports "find their niche" in swimming.
"I've enjoyed watching a kid that never even knew what a swim team was come out for the team, stick with it for three years, progress and set a goal and accomplish a goal," he said.