Fountain-Fort Carson swim coach John Rork enjoys dual meets against his son Jack's Palmer team
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John York, swim coach at Fountain-Fort Carson High School, is pictured with his son, Jack, a Palmer swimmer, at Palmer High School on Tuesday, March 8, 2016. Photo by Stacie Scott, The Gazette.

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John Rork has coached swimming at Fountain-Fort Carson for 24 years. He is used to going head-to-head against 5A Colorado Springs Metro League rival Palmer. The past three years have been different, though, and the meets against the Terrors have meant a little bit more.

That's because when Rork looks across the deck at the competition he sees his son, Jack, who has been swimming and diving for Palmer since his freshman year.

"It's been a lot of fun," John said of coaching against his son's Palmer team. "It's sometimes the only chance I get to see him compete is when we go head-to-head, so it's just nice to be a dad for a little bit."

Jack could have swam for his dad's team but decided to attend Palmer because he was involved with the International Baccalaureate program, which is not offered at F-FC.

"It's been a good environment for him," John said. "He's really grown and matured (at Palmer), so it was a good choice on his part."

Still, coaching at a different school than his son swims for has been difficult at times for John. He often can't make it to Jack's meets because he's busy with his own team.

The dual meets against Palmer are often just as difficult as not being at Jack's other meets because he knows his son is in the pool but John has to focus on his team. Diving allows John a bit more time to watch Jack.

"Yeah, it's been tough," John said. "It's been hard at times, but it's been a lot of fun, too."

As for the coaching part, John tries to leave that to Jack's coaches at Palmer. John asks his son for feedback on his own performance after a meet, but John's respect and admiration for Jack's coaches allow him a chance to step back from coaching when talking to his son.

"Every once in a while sometimes I'll say, 'You know, when you swam the backstroke this is kind of what I saw, did the coaches talk to you about that?' or, 'Have you thought about this?' but for the most part it's just trying to be a dad and letting his coaches coach him."

This is also something Jack's coaches have noticed and appreciated.

Palmer swim coach Kayla McGilvray understands the meets between the Terrors and the Trojans mean a lot to the Rorks, and she has also enjoyed the rivalry.

"One thing I've appreciated about John is he is a swim coach and I have to imagine sometimes you want to jump in and coach your kid but he's always super respectful about Palmer (being Jack's) team," McGilvray said.

For Jack, the meets against his dad are special. While he works as hard as he can at every meet, when he sees his dad it helps to give him an extra push.

"I get a little nervous because it's one of the very few times he gets to see me compete," Jack said. "I always want to try to make him as proud as possible because he's my dad. Sometimes I do think that makes me do a little bit better because I am more motivated to do my best."

The Terrors and Trojans will meet April 6 in a dual, and it will be the final time Jack faces his father's team one-on-one.

"It's the last time I get to do that," Jack said, "so I'm trying to make it as memorable as possible."

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