Two Swimmers Take a Deep Breath Together

Michael Theron McVicker and Ian Poris Slater met on the campus of Brown University in 2008, when both were visiting as high school seniors on a swim team recruiting trip.

Mr. McVicker, from Larchmont, N.Y., had been open about being gay at his high school. “A core memory was that he is a really cool, good-looking, normal” guy, said Mr. Slater, who grew up in the Baltimore area and was still figuring out his sexuality.

He hadn’t yet figured it out by the time both started as students at Brown, where they quickly became best friends, in large part because their lives revolved around the swim team in and out of the pool. Except for Sundays, there was practice from 6 to 7:30 a.m.; an hourlong workout at the gym at 3 p.m.; and then another two hours back in the pool until 6 p.m.

Spending so much time together, Mr. Slater soon developed a crush on Mr. McVicker. Even so, during a trip they took to New York for New Year’s Eve in December 2010, he resisted telling Mr. McVicker how romantic it felt walking through the confetti-covered streets of Times Square with him on New Year’s Day at 3 a.m.

The following March, after Mr. Slater came out, his feelings for Mr. McVicker came rushing out when swim season ended.

“I had messy pent-up energy telling Mike I wanted to be with him,” Mr. Slater said.

They then had a “fling,” as Mr. McVicker put it, which he said “was fun.” But before heading to Bologna, Italy, for a semester abroad that summer, Mr. McVicker put the brakes on their romance.

“I thought we had such a good friendship,” said Mr. McVicker, who encouraged Mr. Slater to date others. “I didn’t want to ruin it.”

While Mr. McVicker was in Italy, Mr. Slater studied Arabic at Columbia University and started dating someone else. “Initially I was happy for him,” Mr. McVicker said, but eventually he realized, “Wait, I don’t want Ian to date this other person,” as he put it.

They began dating seriously at the end of their junior year at Brown, but kept their relationship under wraps as seniors, both said, because they had risen to become co-captains of the swim team and wanted to avoid distractions.

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Ten days after their graduation in 2013, Mr. McVicker began interning as a project manager at Sciame, a New York construction firm. That fall, after Mr. Slater began interning as a real estate agent at Douglas Elliman in New York, the couple moved to the Financial District.

Mr. Slater, 30, is now a residential real estate broker and the president of the Slater team at Compass, a real estate firm, in New York. Mr. McVicker, 31, is a developer who buys and renovates residential Rhode Island properties.

In 2015, they adopted Stella, a rescue dog from Alabama, and two years later they relocated to the Upper East Side to be near Central Park for her sake. In January 2020, they moved to what both called their dream apartment with a fireplace in Greenwich Village, where Mr. McVicker, who by then worked on Rhode Island properties full time, spent long weekends.

When the pandemic hit, Mr. Slater joined Mr. McVicker in Rhode Island. After staying at a home owned by Mr. McVicker’s parents in Newport, they moved into an apartment in Providence, in a historic house Mr. McVicker was working on.

In August 2020, Mr. Slater proposed by a lake at Twin Farms, a resort in Barnard, Vt. Sensing it was coming, Mr. McVicker recalled telling him: “Don’t you dare get on a knee.” A month later, they bought a dilapidated house in Newport, which they renovated and became their second home.

The two wed on March 19 at the Bowery Hotel in New York, before 176 guests who enclosed proof of vaccinations, as requested, with their R.S.V.P.’s. Nicholas Vitrano, a college friend of the couple who became a Universal Life minister for the occasion, officiated at the ceremony, in which Mr. Slater’s 96-year-old maternal grandmother, Florence Poris, participated.

“We didn’t have visions dreaming about a wedding,” said Mr. Slater. “But it was very important to have a great party with our friends and family, and we definitely did.”