It’s not every day that you encounter someone whose job and passion are the same. Yet Irvine High School senior Duc Huynh’s friends call him “Aquaman” because he practically lives in the water.
Huynh, 17, works as a lifeguard and swim instructor for the City of Irvine. Over the summer of 2014 alone, he devoted over 200 hours to teaching kids, aged three to 12, to swim. Teaching groups of around five in a single session, Huynh has taught more than 400 students over the past two years.
“Swimming is one of the most basic life skills necessary for [a water] emergency scenario… One of my goals as a teacher is to ensure my kids’ ability to swim to survive,” said Huynh in an interview with J Student Reporters.
Although he took swimming lessons as a child, Huynh admits that he did not like the experience.
“It took a bit of adjusting for me to thoroughly enjoy swimming,” Huynh explained. “I never hated the water, but it was something that I would consider to be tedious and unenjoyable.”
Now, even in his busy senior year of high school, Huynh dedicates over 15 hours a week to his passion.
“Swimming [has] taught me character,” Huynh said. “Confidence, endurance, ambition — these are so important when swimming, and now what used to be the worst part of my day is the part of day I most look forward to. That’s why I took up the job of swimming instructor: to possibly show the little kids, who are forced to take lessons by their parents, that swimming can be one of the greatest things humans are physically and mentally capable of achieving.”
Huynh is also a Varsity team swimmer for his high school team, the Irvine Vaqueros. The team practices at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center, a premier swimming center where several U.S. Olympic swimmers have trained including four-time gold medalist Jason Lezak.
“Duc is always very excited about swimming,” swim teammate and Irvine senior Jared Johannessen told JSR. “Many of us just go to swim practice and do it for the credits, but he takes his swimming ability beyond school and actually makes use of it. Because of him, I’ve begun researching lifeguard jobs as well.”
As for now, Huynh intends to advance his aqua adventures through college and beyond.