We Are HAC! – Doug Knox

In 2022, Doug Knox came out of retirement and got back in the pool. And it was a decision that floats our boat! 

After teaching 8th grade language arts in Oregon for 30 years, Doug and his wife returned to Michigan (they both grew up on the east side of the state and attended WMU) to be close to family. But shortly after he moved here, Doug had an epiphany. 

“I didn’t miss the paperwork, but I did miss working with kids,” he said. “Plus, I have often said that coaching and teaching swimming at a YMCA while in college was the happiest I’ve ever been on the job. It always felt much more like having fun, while helping kids, than working. Being at Holland Aquatic Center was a chance to go back to that happy place.”  

Doug quickly became recertified as a water safety instructor and a lifeguard at HAC and then he went to work in our Swim School program eight months ago. In that time, he has garnered a reputation as HAC’s #1 hype man. These two ringing endorsements by HAC Swim School parents, posted on Facebook, affirm why Doug was selected as HAC’s June Employee of the Month. 

“Mr. Doug makes every kid feel so loved and encouraged,” wrote Heather Volkema. “He teaches them such a passion and respect for the water.”  

“A huge shoutout to Coach Doug Knox,” posted Kathy Schmitt. “Such a patient, fun, and encouraging coach. We cannot wait to start next (Macatawa Age-Group Swim) season with you!” 

“It’s all very humbling,” says a somewhat embarrassed Doug who, by the way, is a massive Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen fan. “I just truly believe we save lives here through our instructional program.” 

Encouraging, teaching, and saving young lives – that is what Doug and HAC are all about! 



Favorite movie: Rocky – “Every champion was once a contender who refused to give up.” 

Biggest fear: Great White Sharks 

Best vacation: Family reunions on Lake Michigan 

Things that bring me joy: Spending time with my wife and family, watching my dog swim in Lake Michigan, and helping kids progress from being scared, to finding joy in the water. 

Bucket list item: Become a published author 

Best advice I ever received: “One kind word can brighten a person’s entire day.” (Aline Knox-my mom). 

You would be surprised to know… I’ve bungee jumped three times. 

Favorite food: Sushi 

What I like most about working at HAC: Helping kids get over any fear they might have of the water, my co-workers, and I have to say, the overall atmosphere! Colleagues are supportive, and patrons are consistently positive and friendly.