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(Photo by Julian Vankim)
”I never got teased for having asthma,” he shares, laughing at the memory. ”A lot of kids thought the inhaler was cool. Like, ‘Can I try it?’ No, you can’t! I need this. Every pump counts. Still to this day, when I need to use my inhaler, I’m very secretive about it. I turn away from people to take a quick puff. I’ve always been that way. I don’t know why that is. No clue.”
Having asthma, though, seems to have been a psychological burden as much as physical one. At least, it used to be. It’s a lesson he learned in Texas, the backstory behind his October answer to something he never wants to do again: swim a mile.
At 14, Brian started working at a camp resort, leading craft lessons for the kiddie campers. At 16, however, he was eligible to be a camp lifeguard. He took to the new job so well that management asked him to be a lifeguard supervisor. He’d just need to get certified, which meant heading out to Austin, Texas.