As the title of Kieran McCarthy's acclaimed book about the international success of the local rowing club goes, there's something in the water in the West Cork town of Skibbereen.
In recent months, Munster Rugby have been reaping the benefit previously seen on the water or on the Gaelic football pitches in the form of a man the senior players in the squad have christened 'Super Gav'.
A first-cousin of Olympic silver-medallist brothers Gary and Paul O'Donovan, the back-row forward, 6ft 6ins in height, has been a try machine for the province this season and his powerful effort against Harlequins on his European debut took his total to seven in eight games.
To those who watched Coombes growing up, his performances come as no surprise.
He comes from a family of big men. The Coombes are dairy farmers outside the town and his father Eric and uncles John and Ivan played together on the senior team at Skibbereen RFC during their heyday.
Eric married Regina, aunt to the rowers, and Gavin appears to have won the gene lottery with a wingspan like Paul's to go with the size of his dad and uncles.
Growing up, he was a familiar presence on the sidelines of the club grounds beside the River Ilen.
"When they were boyeens, himself, Liam and another guy Eric O'Brien - their families are very well involved in the club - would be around when we'd be playing matches and they'd be tearing into each other with tackle bags, destroyed in the p***ing rain," former player Denis McCarthy, who played with the Skibb' first team with Coombes and now coaches the side, recalls. "You could see they loved the rugby, the contact and the physicality. Nearly trying to hurt each other.
"They grew up around the club. Liam's mum and Gavin's aunt Mags would have been the chairwoman for a couple of years, his dad and all his uncles played and played Munster Junior.
"His father would have been infamous back in the day as a second-row! A big, dirty mullocker. Good height and fierce strength, hands like shovels. They're farmers. It's in the breeding, he was always more than likely going to be a big unit with that farmer strength."
Crucially, he wasn't always big and, given their location, Skibbereen would be thrown in with the bigger city teams and were forced to develop their skill levels to stay competitive.
Gavin was also a talented basketball player who played Gaelic football and, as a result, he has the skills to go with his size.
His rugby education continued at Bandon Grammar and, as they were a 'B' school, he was allowed to play for both club and school.
As soon as he was 18, the Skibb' seniors came calling and McCarthy recalls his young team-mate in the No 6 shirt impressing right away.
"As soon as he was eligible, he started playing with us for six or seven months," he recalls. "He was definitely ready.
"One of the first games he came off the bench up in Newcastle West and they couldn't handle him. The power, the athleticism and the rugby brain; he's great hands. For someone of his size, he's such a beast he draws guys in but has the ability to spot space as well and give that pass.
"That's from growing up, always having a rugby ball in his hand and running around with Liam. It's like the Kilkenny hurlers always having a hurley, those lads always had a rugby ball in their hands."
The first team knew they'd only have him for a short period because Coombes and his cousin Liam were on their way to the Munster Academy.
Driven on by being overlooked by the Irish Schools team, he knuckled down with the Munster U-19 team that upset Leinster and made the international squad at that level and U-20s where he was part of a squad that didn't shoot the lights out but contained Caelan Doris, Paul Boyle and Jordan Larmour.
He made his debut against the Cheetahs in September 2018 and has had to bide his time, but the senior players knew he had something.
"He's been phenomenal. We have a joke going around calling him 'Super Gav'," Jean Kleyn says.
"He's a strong player, a brilliant ball-carrier, has the ability to stay on his feet that is difficult to match.
"He's always been a fairly big piece of West Cork meat you know? A lot of bacon and cabbage growing up!
"He's always been on the radar for everyone. You have to build your way up, the last couple of years he's done his time.
"That old saying, 'When the boat comes by you have to jump on', and when the boat came by he absolutely jumped on it. There was always something brewing but he has shown this year where his potential lies."
Patience rarely comes naturally to young rugby players, and Coombes was forced to spend plenty of time with Young Munster and their 'A' side.
During lockdown, he knuckled down and invested plenty of time into his body and his improvement earned him a bench spot for the PRO14 semi-final against Leinster.
He only got two minutes, but when Stander and Peter O'Mahony went off to Ireland camp he set about nailing down a place in the team and by the time they returned he'd done enough to keep his place in the team and today he starts away to Clermont.
"He's really diligent about what he does away from the field, the extras that he picks up, his knowledge, his understanding of the plays, the system, it's all there," coach Stephen Larkham says.
"He backs that up with 80-minute performances where his carrying stats have been superb; he's scored a number of tries for us - but it's a combination of all those things; his willingness to get better, understanding of the way we want to play and then the actual execution on the field. He's been outstanding."
The only shame in Skibbereen is that they haven't been able to fill a couple of buses to go and support him.
Still, for a growing club his presence in the Munster first-team is a source of huge pride.
"All of the volunteers that would have coached those lads up along and people on the committee - they can walk a little taller," McCarthy says.
"We'd always have been big Munster supporters, but now we're actually providing players for Munster's future, not just linear support.
"The lads are very good to the club, they never hesitate when they're asked to help out, they're accessible for kids of 10, 12 who now know it's not an impossible dream. There's no barriers to us anymore."
And, Kleyn believes, it won't be long before the club has its first senior international.
"He is a great player," the Ireland second-row said. "Loads of potential to get even better. As a potential future international? He is definitely there."