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Forty Years Of Coaching Swimming ... But Paul Gunty Never Counted Victories

By Justin Breen | February 1, 2016 5:31am | Updated on February 1, 2016 4:07pm
 Paul Gunty has been a high school swim coach for 40 years, including the last 26 at University of Chicago Laboratory Schools.
Paul Gunty has been a high school swim coach for 40 years, including the last 26 at University of Chicago Laboratory Schools.
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Paul Gunty

CHICAGO — Over 40 years of coaching boys and girls swimming, Paul Gunty probably has accrued hundreds of victories.

But Gunty — a high school coach since 1976, including the last 26 years at University of Chicago Laboratory Schools — has no idea what his overall record is ... and he doesn't care.

"Some coaches have winning records or outstanding records, but I've never kept track," said Gunty, a Quigley South High School and Loyola University graduate. "The big thing for me is having fun and working hard, and that's what I try to do in coaching."

Gunty, 62, of Edgebrook, coached at his high school alma mater until the school closed in 1990 (the building would become St. Rita High School). He's been at Lab Schools, where he also teaches mathematics, since. Much of that time has been spent cramming his teams in the school's five-lane, 20-yard pool — which hosted the 1929 state finals, but is a fraction of the size of most current high school pools. The team also now practices and has meets in the University of Chicago Ratner Center, which opened in 2003.

Longtime Lab Schools athletic director David Ribbens described Gunty as a "humble, quiet and accomplished coach." Last year, Gunty's boys squad set nine of the 11 school records. This season, junior Eamonn Keenan has broken school marks in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle.

"Like fine wine, he has aged well," Ribbens said of Gunty.

Gunty expects Keenan to swim in college. He's had a handful of swimmers compete in Division III, but never in the highest collegiate ranks. And he's never had a swimmer place at state.

But, again, that's not the point, he said.

"For most of our swimmers, sectionals is going to be their last swim," Gunty said. "We train to hit our best time at sectionals."

Gunty has no plans to retire any time soon. He has a handful of golfing friends who retired years ago because they weren't happy with their jobs. He said being around teenagers keeps him invigorated and young.

"I never feel like I'm getting older," Gunty said.

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