Father Of Taylor Pool

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As the patriarch/manager of Taylor Pool for 17 years, Jim Quinlan's best memories are of the many youths who participated in the myriad of summer aquatic programs.

Austin White, 29, was one of those Quinlan tutored.

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Jim Quinlan looks over Taylor Pool, where he was the manager, Pikes team coach and swim instructor for 17 years. Quinlan stepped down from his position four years ago.

"Mr. Quinlan taught me so much there (at Taylor)," White said. "I learned to love (aquatics) from him."

After learning to swim at Taylor and becoming a member of the Payson Pikes team Quinlan founded, White went on to become a lifeguard, water safety instructor, team coach and eventually, the pool manager.

Early this spring, White stepped down from his teaching and coaching career at PHS to realize his lifelong dream of becoming a SeaWorld trainer.

While White reached the pinnacle of aquatic success, there are hundreds of youths who Quinlan also nurtured during his tenure at Taylor.

"We had so many kids go through the program," he said. "We tried to teach them that you could work hard and still have fun."

Quinlan remembers that many who swam for the Pikes or worked at Taylor had other summer responsibilities.

"Some were playing Little League or were in high school sports, but most usually found a way to work out in the morning," he said. "They had full schedules."

In resigning as Taylor Pool manager in 2003 to teach classes at Gila Community College, Quinlan did so, knowing throngs of young swimmers considered the pool almost a second home.

"The kids were always a big focus for us," he said. "I'm proud of that."

When Quinlan arrived on the scene in 1986, Taylor was struggling under a hit-and-miss management scheme, partly because the pool was newly built.

Quinlan took over with years of aquatic experience, as a former prep swimmer, high school and club coach and municipal manager.

"He brought a lot of expertise with him when he came in," said Tim Fruth, now Payson's vice mayor. "I don't know if there was another man who would have come to Payson with the knowledge he had."

Prior to arriving in Payson, Quinlan served 10 years as a manager of the Casa Grande municipal pool and for eight years was the boys and girls swimming and diving coach at Casa Grande High School.

He also coached the Central Arizona Dust Devils ASU swim team and was on the Central Arizona College staff.

As a college student at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., he was a member of the Bulldogs water polo team.

"Water polo includes my two loves -- swimming and basketball," he said.

At Casa Grande, Quinlan remembers coaching a skinny, bespeckeled 6-year-old youngster named Troy Dolby, who eventually went on to star at Arizona State University and win an Olympic gold medal in swimming.

"I could never have predicted he would do something like that," Quinlan said.

The first summer Quinlan took over management of Taylor, he set about scheduling lessons for different skill levels and providing the aquatic opportunities most municipal pools offer.

"I was like the ring leader of a circus, trying to get things organized," he said.

During his second year as pool manager, he helped found the adult aerobics classes that are still offered at Taylor.

"Pam White and Susan Hall were a great help with the aerobics," he said. "(The classes) became very popular."

In addition to overseeing the pool from Memorial Day to about Sept. 1, Quinlan was also responsible each May for teaching Red Cross lifeguard certification classes.

Eventually, he earned credentials to become a Red Cross Water Safety Instructor (WSI) and was able to help many of the guards advance in rank to become swim instructors.

In the fall of 2000, after being appointed head boys basketball coach at Payson High School, Quinlan resigned as Pikes coach.

"I didn't think I could do justice to both programs, but it was a tough decision," he said.

Under Quinlan's guidance, swim team ranks ballooned to up to 180 swimmers.

"When we held our first practice, we had four (team members)," he said. "Each day, I told the swimmers they had to come back the next practice with one of their friends. That's how we grew."

Quinlan recalls the Pike swim team as an integral part of many Rim Country teenagers' maturation and learning process.

"They had to get up early (6:30 a.m.), get out of bed in the summer and accomplish something," he said. "That was tough for some, but they learned from it."

Today, the Payson Pikes swim team remains a very popular aquatic option at Taylor Pool.

"I'm glad the team is still going," Quinlan said.

"It's something many kids really need."

After retiring two years ago from teaching English at Payson High School and Notre Dame Prep in Scottsdale, Quinlan is now a full-time English instructor at GCC.

Despite the change in venue, his recent accomplishments will never erase the fond memories of Taylor Pool.

"It was fun, filled with a lot of great times," he said. "I think we accomplished a lot and did some good things for the kids."

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