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Former Pioneer Valley swim All-American Meghan O'Reilly thriving in San Diego

Former Pioneer Valley swim All-American Meghan O'Reilly thriving in San Diego

Her coaching days are done, for the time being anyway, but Meghan O'Reilly is still plenty busy.

The former Meghan Zimmer, a standout swimmer when she attended Pioneer Valley and San Diego State, is a fourth grade teacher in San Diego. She also helps her husband, Corbin, run a Santa Maria-style barbecue in San Diego, Corbin’s Q restaurant.

They also run a beer business, Tap Truck, with Corbin’s business partner, Taylor Speers.

“The tap truck is year-round,” said Meghan O'Reilly. “We do weddings, private catering events and so forth. We have licenses across the nation, one in Mexico, one in Canada.”

O'Reilly was a high school swimming All-American at Pioneer Valley. She won a CIF Southern Section divisional championship in the 100 backstroke as a junior in 2006.

She still holds the San Diego State women’s 200 freestyle record, 1:46.60.

After graduating in 2013, O'Reilly was active in coaching. Then, three years ago, she suffered a stroke.

“I had to stop everything for a little bit,” O'Reilly said.

“I was actually pretty fortunate. I only lost vision. It took about three months for my vision to recover. I didn’t lose any physical strength. I didn’t lose my speech ability.”

O'Reilly said, “It was weird. My brain had to fix part of the damage. It was just a weird feeling. I was tired all the time.”

The former Meghan Zimmer said she started in a teaching credential program three months after the stroke.

Now, “I’m 100 percent better,” O'Reilly said. “(Medical personnel) said that because I was so young, I was able to recover quickly.”

Before the stroke, O'Reilly coached for four-and-a-half years.

“I was the head age group coach for a college area 12-and-under swim team. I coached the junior varsity boys swim team at Granite Hills High School in San Diego for three years.”

Now her coaching is pretty much confined to teaching in the classroom though, “I sometimes give private (swim) lessons,” O'Reilly said.

“I love teaching. I love helping (students) achieve something. I’ve taken teaching (when she was a swim coach) and turned it into the classroom.”

O'Reilly, as teachers throughout the state had been doing, took her teaching online. Schools throughout the state closed in mid-March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s been a little challenging just because some of my students only speak Spanish,” O'Reilly said of teaching remotely.

“It’s hard for my kids to sit in front of a computer all day and stay motivated. They’re just not used to it. It’s hard for a 10-year-old.

“The parents have been very supportive, and I’m grateful for that.”

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Sports Reporter

Kenny Cress, sportswriter for the Santa Maria Times since September of 2000. BA in political science from Cal Poly Pomona. BA in journalism from Cal State Northridge.

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