SEATTLE, Washington, January 24. A Catholic high school’s vice principal and swim coach was fired in December because he married a man legally under Washington state law, and a recent swim meet continued a strong outpouring of support for the man many call “Mr. Z.”
Mark Zmuda, 39, was fired on December 20 when administrators learned he had married his longtime partner, Dana Jergens, last summer. Washington state allowed same-sex couples to marry beginning Dec. 6, 2012, but the Catholic Church has publicly decried same-sex marriage, and Zmuda has said publicly he was fired for his marriage, not for being gay.
He told local media that he did not keep his marriage a secret, but when a few colleagues found out, it was reported to the principal and president of the school. Earlier this week, the school’s president, Sister Mary Tracy, resigned after weeks of student and community support for Zmuda.
Zmuda is also the school’s swim coach, and his swimmers continue to express their support by writing “Save Mr. Z” and other words of encouragement on their bodies at swim meets. Sources told Swimming World that Eastside’s dual meet today against Lakeside will also feature support for Zmuda, both on deck and in the spectator area.
Swimming World’s attempts to contact Zmuda this week have been unsuccessful.
Eastside is not a state power in swimming, but the school is likely to gain as much or more attention than the top schools at next month’s state championships.