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Family Biographies

Biographies: Murray Callan – The 1st Generation – Graduate of San Diego State University

Murray Callan was born in Long Beach, California, in 1924 and from an early age was exposed continually to pools and the ocean; he quickly developed an affinity for both. Murray always felt his early and uninterrupted exposure to water was a primary factor in his athletic, academic and professional successes. Murray used his aquatic foundation to move into more advanced hand-to-eye coordination sports, excelling in both football and baseball while in high school.

Before Murray could graduate from high school he was drafted into the military, becoming part of Tom Brokaw’s Greatest Generation, serving as a tailgunner in TBM torpedo planes while fighting the Japanese in the South Pacific during World War II. During boot camp, Murray began teaching fellow Navy trainees how to swim when they struggled to pass the swim test needed for graduation. He knew he had a knack for instructing because of his patience and ability to communicate with those he was teaching. It was also here that Murray first witnessed mothers giving birth to their babies in tide pools in the South Pacific. This image stayed with Murray for years and eventually became the basis for curiosity and the desire to implement early and natural exposure to warm water for infants in the United States. Hence the research began and the Murray Callan Soft-Touch, No Fear Technique was born.

After surviving several harrowing ordeals during the war, Murray returned home and accepted a football scholarship to San Diego State University, where he was to lead the Aztecs in rushing in 1948, playing against the likes of Brigham Young University, Arizona State University and the University of Arizona. At this time, he met his future wife, Joan Standley, who would soon become an integral part of the administrative realm of the original Murray Callan Swim School.

Once his outstanding career as an Aztec running back was over and following graduation, Murray decided that teaching and coaching were his calling. After finishing his teaching credential, he began a 30-year career as a teacher and coach in San Diego Unified School District. He began his career at Point Loma High School where he was the varsity baseball coach and the backfield coach for the football team. He later became a long time swimming coach at Clairemont High School. To this day, Murray holds records as one of the winningest coaches in the District’s history,claiming several titles in football, baseball, tennis, swimming, soccer, gymnastics, and wrestling.

It was during this time period that he began to intensively study the connection between early aquatic exposures with advanced academic, athletic and social development. He felt, and it was later proven in studies in West Germany, East Germany, and the former Soviet Union (Russia), that there was a viable connection, but it had to be in a warm, relaxed aquatic environment. Murray felt there was a natural transition from the womb to warm water and thus a very fluid, energy-efficient and relaxed child results. To take the next step to more advanced hand-eye sports such as tennis, golf, or baseball, where smooth, energy-efficient movements are essential, is natural. On the other hand, if a child’s aquatic exposure is in an environment where the method emphasized is not a fluid, relaxed and energy-efficient stroke, but instead on a non-fluid, non-relaxed or choppy method then there willbe no carryover. The person, whether child or adult, will invariably be at risk if not truly comfortable in the water.

While teaching and coaching at Point Loma and Clairemont High Schools for 30 years, Murray was also the aquatic coordinator at the La Jolla Country Club for 20 years. In 1975, Murray purchased a commercial property on Law in Pacific Beach and designed and built a custom facility for the express purpose of teaching infants and young children to swim. (A new facility was added by the 2nd generation of Callans in San Marcos in 1996. In 2014, Glenn Callan gave that facility to his son, Brett, and it is now named Callan Swim School.) Murray knew that merely leasing properties with pools already on them was not adequate. Such pre-existing facilities are not designed for teaching young children how to swim and consequently are usually unsuccessful. In addition, most leased pools are usually shared with the public and maintained by other groups, thus bringing into question hygienic issues. With Murray’s innovative methodology and unique pool design, success was and still is inevitable.

After 25 years of producing successful, relaxed swimmers, Murray was inducted into the inaugural class of the United States Swim School Hall of Fame. The United States Swim School Association’s annual Teacher of the Year award is named in his honor and is still presented to deserving swim instructors at USSSA annual conferences. Ultimately, he brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to the world of swimming. This was to be the basis of forty-five years of creativity that would lead to the nurturingand progressive program their swim schools symbolize. Murray and Joan’s philosophy, methodology and desire tohelp the San Diego community have enabled thousands of children, as young as just a few months, to begin tolearn to swim in a warm, patient and relaxing environment. They felt that children should be at one with thewater and that swimming was the only athletic experience that could one day save their lives. So from the thousands of children who have enjoyed this experience to the thousands more in future generations, Murray and Joan, we all thank you.

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Biographies: Glenn Callan – The 2nd Generation – Graduate of Los Angeles State University

Murray Callan’s son, Glenn, was born in San Diego in 1949 and from an early age was instructed in swimming by his father. Murray perfected Glenn’s stroke and continually exposed Glenn to other aquatic environments. This included bodysurfing and diving for abalone and lobster together when Glenn was only 7 years old. These activities continued until Glenn left for college.

Glenn followed Murray’s transition from the water to football and baseball where, at San Diego High School, he was the catcher on the Caver baseball team and the captain and quarterback on the football team.

Following high school, Glenn accepted a football scholarship to Los Angeles State University (now California State University, Los Angeles) where he became the starting quarterback, playing in the same Division I conference (PCAA) with San Diego State University, San Jose State University and Fresno State University.

After graduation from L.A. State with a degree in history, Glenn once again followed Murray, this time into the field of education. He began a 26-year teaching career with San Diego Unified School District in 1974.Glenn then earned a Master’s Degree in Education.

Every summer, beginning in high school, Glenn worked side-by-side with Murray in the evolution and implementation of the soft-touch, no-fear philosophy and, like Murray, Glenn became convinced that it was the perfect foundation for aquatic safety, stroke development, academic and athletic enhancement, and social independence. The critical keys, according to Murray and Glenn, were a methodology based on a smooth, relaxed, energy-efficient stroke combined with facilities that were purchased, designed and built strictly to teach infants and young children how to swim. Glenn and his father continued to watch other swim programs and instructors teach their students to swim from point A to point B, even using a choppy, exhausting stroke and they knew their philosophy was far superior. The Callans became increasingly aware that infant and child-friendly methods and environments would be the means by which they would create successful swimmers.

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Brett Callan – The 3rd Generation – Graduate of the University of California, Berkeley

Brett Callan was born in 1971 in Los Angeles, California, where his father, Glenn, was going to school and playing football at Los Angeles State University. Brett, from an early age, was exposed to the Murray Callan methodology and was to become a top junior competitive swimmer, competing in the Junior Olympics on numerous occasions.

Like his father and grandfather before him, Brett made the transition to football and baseball upon entering Point Loma High School. This decision led to a remarkably successful high school career where Brett was the Eastern League Player of the Year and All-County in both football (as a receiver) and baseball (as a catcher). Upon graduation, Brett accepted a football scholarship to the University of California, Berkeley, where he was a receiver and punt returner for the Golden Bears. At the end of his junior year, the Houston Astros drafted Brett in the 9th round and Brett chose to sign a professional baseball contract, spending several years in their organization before chronic shoulder problems prematurely ended his career.

During the off seasons, Brett returned to Berkeley where he graduated with a degree in Sociology. After finishing his degree at Cal, Brett entered aviation school, became a commercially-rated pilot and later worked in ground and flight instruction. Realizing the aviation industry after 9/11 was in a downturn, he decided to return to one of his first loves, the water. Brett is now the owner of Callan Swim School in San Marcos.

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Jenny Callan – The 3rd Generation – Graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara

Jenny Callan, Murray’s second grandchild and Glenn’s second child, was born in San Diego, California, in 1974 and, much like her siblings, was exposed continually to the Murray Callan methodology and philosophy at a young age. Jenny spent countless hours first being taught by her grandfather and then being trained as an instructor, giving her an unparalleled background as a swimmer and as an instructor.

Jenny was to swim competitively and play tennis all the way through high school where she played number one singles as a junior and senior on Mission Bay High School’s tennis team. After graduating with academic honors from Mission Bay, Jenny enrolled at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she graduated in four years with a degree in Sociology.

Upon graduation, Jenny followed in the footsteps of her father and grandfather, earning her teaching credential in 1997. Jenny also earned a Master’s Degree in Education. Jenny began teaching middle school English, Mathematics and History for San Diego Unified School District in 1998. Every summer since the age of 14, Jenny has been an integral part of the success at Murray Callan Swim School, both as an instructor and as an administrator. She is now the facility coordinator of MCSS.

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Kaitlin Callan – The 3rd Generation – Graduate of the University of California, Davis

Kaitlin Callan, Murray’s third and youngest grandchild and Glenn’s youngest child, was born in San Diego in 1985 and, like her two older siblings, was taught to swim by her grandfather, where her stroke proved to be as equally fluid and energy-efficient as the strokes of her brother and sister. Kaitlin swam competitively for a brief time before turning exclusively to tennis where she was to become a highly ranked junior player in southern California and lead La Jolla High school to four consecutive CIF Championships.

Kaitlin decided to continue her academic and athletic careers at the University of California, Davis, where during her four year career she was one of the Division I Aggies’ top singles players, playing against the likes of the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, University of Arizona, and Arizona State University. An added honor was awarded to Kaitlin in her senior year when she was named Team Captain of the Aggie Women’s Tennis Team. Kaitlin graduated with a degree in History and – following in the footsteps of her grandfather, father, and older sister Jenny – earned her teaching credential. While in high school and college, Kaitlin spent summers teaching swimming lessons and helping manage the family business.
While attending UC Davis, Kaitlin fell in love with Northern California and now resides there and teaches elementary school.

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Martina Merz – Manager

Martina was born in Bakersfield, California. As a child, swimming was a very important part of her summer schedule and after taking lessons from the age of 2, swimming became a competitive endeavor during junior high and at Wasco High School. The 500-yard freestyle was Martina’s favorite and most successful event. While maintaining an excellent academic record in high school, Martina also competed on the Varsity Volleyball Team and Varsity Swim Team for four years. Because of her love of athletics and academics, pursuing a degree in the difficult major of kinesiology (body movement perceived through nerve end organs in muscles, tendons and joints) was a logical progression in her academic career. So Martina made the move to San Diego to attend SDSU and soon found herself teaching swimming at Murray Callan Swim School. After completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology, with an emphasis in Physical Education, Martina left MCSS and took a job with a staffing agency. Although she gained much experience in sales, recruiting and human resources, this corporate position would never prove to be as exciting and satisfying as teaching others to swim! After a three-year break from MCSS, Martina was thrilled about the opportunity to teach swimming again and manage the swim school. Naturally, MCSS is extremely excited to have her back!

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