Dick Guyer’s life’s passion can perhaps best be encapsulated by the customized license plate on the back of his vehicle.
It simply reads “COACH G.”
After initially having to retire as head coach of the York Suburban varsity swimming programs in 2009 for health reasons, Guyer fought hard for a clean bill of health and returned to the program in 2015 an assistant.
And now, he’s back in his old post, recently confirmed as the ‘new’ head coach of the Trojans.
“I never really left voluntarily. Had I been healthy, I’d probably still be teaching and coaching, believe it or not,” Guyer said. “It’s a way of life for me. It’s a commitment, a dedication; it just makes my wheels spin.”
Guyer is back in his old role following the recent resignation of Craig Brennan, who took over for Guyer after he initially retired in 2009.
At the time, Guyer left the program to focus on his battle with a type of leukemia. He underwent chemotherapy for a year, a bone-marrow transplant and lost 50 pounds in the process.
With the support of friends and family, as well as his strong will, Guyer eventually beat the disease and took the assistant role under Brennan, one of Guyer’s former Trojan swimmers.
With his physical battle behind him, Guyer discussed coming back with his wife and after receiving encouragement from her, he applied for the job. When he did, he told athletic director Matt Marshall “as long as I have health, (you have) me.”
Why Brennan left: Brennan knew his time with the Trojans was never going to be as long as Guyer’s 41-year tenure, but was just never sure when he would have to step away.
That moment has come as Brennan’s full-time work demands now require more of his time.
Brennan works for Sentinel Connector Systems where his father is CEO. As his father slowly starts to decrease his work demands, he would like Craig to take on a more prominent role.
He credited his father with the generosity of a lenient schedule which allowed him to attend the Trojans’ early morning and afternoon practices.
“I love coaching. But, there’s a certain amount of time and energy and effort that you have to spend to be successful,” Brennan said. “And I didn’t see that being a possibly to spend that kind of time, so for about two years it was in the making.”
Brennan says he was up front with Marshall about his situation from the start.
“Very few people get to meet and work with their heroes. And my two heroes in my life are my Dad and Mr. Guyer, and I got a chance to work with both of them. So, I’m the lucky one I think.”
Program didn’t miss a beat: Guyer spoke highly of the job Brennan did with the program, noting it that it didn’t miss a beat. And Brennan's record backs up that sentiment.
During his time with the Trojans, Brennan estimates his teams picked up over 100 wins between York-Adams League Division II contests and non-division action.
His boys’ clubs posted a 42-3 boys’ record in DII action, while winning six division crowns. His girls’ teams went 40-4-1 with four outright D-II titles crowns and one shared D-II title.
“I don’t think you could ask for a better job. Here’s a young guy that came into a program that was established, he had a rapport with the kids, had district championships, a second-place girls’ finish at the state meet, a number of district champs and All-Americans,” Guyer said. “For a short period of time, that would qualify as wonderful Craig did a great job in keeping the program intact.”
Building on a legendary resume: Once the Trojans return to the pool this winter, Guyer will be looking to build on a historic resume; one that has seen his squads win team and individual honors at every level.
During his first go around, Guyer guided the Trojans to three PIAA titles, 19 District 3 team crowns and 28 York-Adams division championships. The highlight of his career likely came when the Suburban boys won three straight PIAA 2-A state crowns from 2006 through 2008.
The following year, however, Guyer was forced to step down because of deteriorating health.
“The fact that he’s healthy and happy — and knock on something to make sure that continues — I couldn’t be happier to have him go back and take the helm,” Brennan said.
But with all the accomplishments already behind him, and those to come, what matters most to Guyer is his athletes finding success beyond the pool.
“My whole demeanor with my life is if I can make a person a better person, if I can get a kid to get a little more aspirations towards what they want to do for the rest of their life, and if I can see that line up with their work ethic in the pool, that just makes my world go round,” Guyer said.
“I love it. It’s not a job, it’s my life. I’m living my dream.”