Marvin Thorpe developed the love for swimming while growing up in the segregated community of Lynchburg, Virginia. He began teaching other students how to swim as early as the age of nine years old. By the time Marvin Thorpe was 20 years of age he had successfully earned his Red Cross Certification. Although he was a highly decorated athlete in high school and college receiving such honors as the first man in the history of Dunbar High School located in Lynchburg, Virginia to win a first place medal in any V.I.A.L. Track or Field competition and he was a four-year letterman playing football for West Virginia State College, it was the love and passion that he had developed for swimming that he always came back to. Little beknownst to him, it was the near tragedy of his namesake, Marvin Thorpe II, that would propel into his passion of teaching swimming. As a result, pupils from ages 3 to 63 throughout Maryland from all ethnic backgrounds have learned how to swim in his backyard Woodlawn pool. It has been estimated that “Mr. Thorpe”, as he is so well known, has taught more than 15,000 students how to swim over the past 33 years. Moreover, it has been said that Marvin Thorpe has taught more African-Americans to swim than any other local instructor in the Baltimore area from upper and lower class families.
Marvin Thorpe’s love and passion not only provided an opportunity for pupils to learn how to swim, but his work has saved numerous lives and has improved the health of countless children and adults. He has been an asset and contribution to the community, building moral and character by teaching people how to swim that were afraid of water. He was an instructor whose teaching methods involved a stern demeanor that promoted positive discipline. Pupil by pupil, Mr. Thorpe has been a one-man water safety campaign. His ultimate dream was that there would be a time when there were no articles or reports about a child drowning. Marvin Thorpe departed this life on October 12, 2004.
Since the death of Mr. Thorpe, his son, Marvin A. Thorpe II, has become the new President /Program Director for 4M Swim and Recreation, Inc. “Mr. Marvin,” as he is called, has worked side-by-side with his father teaching swimming for over 26 years. Currently, he is working on taking his father’s dream to the next level. Read all about the next phase under the “The Next Step” link on the home page.