Wizard of Water – Larry Koffer

August 1, 2018 by jeanne

Meet the Wizard of Water

By Jeremy Brown

Larry Koffer has been swimming all his life, but his biggest challenge is yet to come.

For Club Fit swimming instructor Larry Koffer, being in the water is just a way of life. “I love swimming,” he says, “and I’ve been doing it all my life, one way or another.”

Born and raised in the Bronx, Koffer began swimming in the Bronx River and was a competitive swimmer in high school and college. “I wasn’t the fastest guy on the team,” he said. “I remember when we’d swim, my coach would use a sundial to time me!” Koffer, however, is just being modest. In fact, he was the Bronx Park Department 100-meter swim champion in 1964.

From swimming in the river to swimming in the pool, Koffer knew that he had found a second home in the water. From then on, he was always trying to find a way to get wet, diving in whenever and wherever he could. When he sold his construction business, the opportunity suddenly presented itself to make swimming a full-time pursuit. “Looking at retirement, I thought, what am I going to do?’” he said. “So I became a Red Cross instructor.”

Koffer’s Red Cross training eventually paved the way for him to become a swimming instructor at Club Fit. At the club, he says that he gets a particular thrill from passing on his love of swimming to people.

“I love teaching people how to swim,” he says. “It’s magical to me. Swimming is an out-of-this-world experience. It’s the perfect exercise and it’s very meditative.”

He says that he really enjoys being able to work with people who aren’t used to being in or around the water and seeing that “moment” when it all clicks for them. “I teach a lot of adults,” he says, “and they haven’t learned how to swim, and they’ve got some anxiety about it. And to get them loosened up and approach swimming as fun, when they get it, it’s like bells go off. Suddenly it all fits.”

Koffer’s enthusiasm and passion for swimming has earned him the nickname “The Wizard of Water.” Although, in the interest of full disclosure, he admits that he is responsible for the moniker.

“On some memo, I signed off as ‘the Wizard of Water,’ and it stuck!” he says, laughing.

After a lifetime of swimming, Koffer is about to undertake his most exciting challenge on the water, a one-mile swim across the Hudson River, from Newburgh to Beacon, on July 28. The swim is a charity event to raise money for the care and maintenance of the River Pool in Beacon. Even more than the challenge of swimming across the Hudson, Koffer is excited about the feeling of unity that comes when a group of swimmers all get together. “I love being on the beach with hundreds of water babies, swimmers who are all loving the water, some are skilled, some are Olympians or near Olympians, national champions,” he said. “But they’re all loving the water, and it’s just like this camaraderie. Some want to swim for a record, some just want to be in the water.”

After crossing the Hudson, Koffer might try for a two-mile swim, he said. But, whatever comes next, he is just grateful for every day in the water. “When I was in junior high school, my best friend’s family had a house on Lake Mahopac, so I came up here 50 years ago,” he said. “And now, to be back here as an adult, living here, swimming in the lake, having wonderful friends…this is perfect.”

Nathalie Garcia wins David Swope Scholarship

July 11, 2018 by karen

Congratulations to our JV inaugural David Swope Educational Scholarship winner, Nathalie Garcia!

 

David Swope Scholarship award winner Nathalie Garcia
David Swope Scholarship award winner Nathalie with Aquatics Director Patrick

In 1973 David Swope and his business partner, Beth Beck, founded Club Fit. In early 2018 David passed away and Club Fit and our communities suffered a great loss.

In addition to being enthusiastic about creating health clubs that foster a sense of community and providing top notch expertise and facilities, David was passionate about helping everyone have access to educational opportunities. To honor his name and the great work he dedicated his life to here at Club Fit and in our communities, we have created the David Swope Educational Scholarship.

Nathalie currently attends SUNY Cortland and is a Community Health major. At the club, you can find Nathalie in the Aquatic Center working as a Lifeguard over the summer and during school breaks throughout the year. Nathalie works diligently at multiple jobs in support of furthering her education. In addition, she is currently interning at Montefiore Hospital and working towards the last 12 credits to obtain her degree. Nathalie is extremely focused on her education and will be traveling abroad to Barcelona this fall with the Global Experience Internship Program. She will be doing career-related humanitarian work. Nathalie is excited to share her passion with others and is looking forward to the opportunity to work in this capacity.

Nathalie truly embraces David Swope’s true essence and commitment to humanitarian outreach. It’s a pleasure to share this award with her.

Alexa Guevara wins David Swope Scholarship

July 10, 2018 by karen

Congratulations to our Briarcliff inaugural David Swope Educational Scholarship winner, Alexa Guevara!

 

David Swope Scholarship award winner Alexa with her mom, Assistant Communications Coordinator Lori, and her uncle, Briarcliff General Manager Mark.

In 1973 David Swope and his business partner, Beth Beck, founded Club Fit. In early 2018 David passed away and Club Fit and our communities suffered a great loss.

In addition to being enthusiastic about creating health clubs that foster a sense of community and providing top notch expertise and facilities, David was passionate about helping everyone have access to educational opportunities. To honor his name and the great work he dedicated his life to here at Club Fit and in our communities, we have created the David Swope Educational Scholarship.

Alexa is a part of the Energy Center team and recently graduated with honors from Westchester Community College with an Associate’s Degree in Visual Arts. She will be transferring into the SUNY New Paltz Fine Arts program in the fall.

By receiving this scholarship, Alexa believes she will “… be able to put it toward the resources that will help me become the artist I want to be. I truly love what I’m in school for and am working hard to achieve my dream.”

All candidates were asked to describe the Club Fit organizational value that meant the most to them. Alexa described her embracement of the neighborhood and genuine fulfillment from caring for the community in which she lives. She described a scenario of volunteering at the local food pantry and said, “Many times our society chooses to be most eager about the qualities that look the best. To have more and better things than the next person. To me, I like to think that when we want a great neighborhood we have to embrace the more challenging parts and help build them stronger. The food pantry has always been a humbling experience and I am fortunate enough to have been exposed to that at an early age. It’s become a value that will stick with me my entire life.”

Alexa’s educational drive and passion for her community aligns with everything David stood for in our community. Congratulations Alexa!