To Our Graduates

By Contributor Emily Lilyestrom

Stay with me on this one…

The weather could not have been more cooperative.  Sunny, hot, and not too humid.  Morning bagels and hot cups of coffee were being served up by concessions, and the smoke from the grill could be seen wafting over the upper deck.  Volunteers swarmed as the pool deck was slowly transformed from a cement-laden desert to a blue, green, and yellow Kingfish oasis.  And, as the swimmers and spectators from River Falls streamed onto the deck, they were met by an energy that we here in the Kentlands have come to love.  Because today was our day to celebrate the Summer 2020 Kingfish graduates.  All 15 of them. 

The robes, crowns, photos and testimonials celebrating the graduates were hung for all to admire.  Graduating parents could be seen scanning the display, as though they were working their way down the main hall of the Louvre.  And young Kingfish swimmers were excited, knowing that in a few years their very own robe and crown would be displayed in the very same spot.  Graduation.  The culmination of what has been, for many in the class of 2020, years of devotion and commitment to this amazing team – the Kingfish.

The team got off to a good start – winning the Boys and Girls 200 Medley Relays.  And as spectators saw triumph by the A teams (Justin Hinckley, Trevor Tabit, Will Spano and Scott Schwendinger for the Boys and Kasey Anderson, Sam Fogle, Jaime Anderson, and Caitlin Hofmann for the Girls) – the deafening cheers and roar of applause continued for what has become a great tradition on this team – the B/Graduate Medley Relay – with Danny Sinno, Matt Dunda, Stefan Jacobson, and Gavin Nash swimming for the boys and Claire O’Halloran, Sara Renzi, Emily McFadden, and Faith Lane swimming for the girls – some in their final swims as a Kingfish.

The team looked good through Free, as we got to see Scott Schwendinger and Kasey Anderson plow through the water like sharks after bait, coming away victorious in their events.  And Ben DeSalle was impressive, winning the Boys 100 Back. 

Our breaststrokers did not disappoint.  Trevor Tabit and Will Spano came in 1st and 2nd, respectively in the Boys 100 Breast.  And, so as not to be outshined by the boys, Sam Fogle, Claire O’Halloran, and Faith Lane swept the girls.

And then there was fly – the most beautiful event of the meet.  The hardest stroke to master.  And yet when you have done just that – you feel as though nothing else can defeat you.  So when our graduating seniors – Kasey Anderson, Emily McFadden, and Sara Renzi for the girls and Justin Hinckley, Gavin Nash, and Scott Schwendinger for the boys – took to the water for their final Kingfish swims it seemed only fitting that we swept the events.  Yes.  We swept the 15-18 50 Fly – Boys and Girls.  And it seemed only fitting because if there was any group that should be allowed to feel as though nothing else can defeat you, it is our Summer 2020 graduates.

Which brings us to graduation.  It is a time when everyone – teammates, family members, and friends – come together.  We somehow manage to forget about what ever else may be transpiring outside of the mesh fencing of the pool deck and we focus on the young teens dressed in their regal crowns and their blue robes.   Every person on the deck is celebrating one and only one thing – the graduates!  Many have been on this team since Kindergarten.  Some have been assistant coaches or CITs.   Some have even missed a year or two on the team.  But all of them have chosen to return so they could be part of the single, best tradition on this team – graduation!

Photo Courtesy Emily Lilyestrom

Okay – so maybe we didn’t have a true senior send off at our last home meet of the season.  And maybe we weren’t able to applaud our graduates and their families as they donned their robes and crowns.  And did these kids miss getting to run through the traditional graduation tunnel?  You bet they did!  So on this 4th of July – lets celebrate our Summer 2020 graduates and raise a glass to:  Kasey Anderson, Ben DeSalle, Matt Dunda, Sam Fogle, Justin Hinckley, Stefan Jacobson, Faith Lane, Emily McFadden, Gavin Nash, Claire O’Halloran, Sara Renzi, Scott Schwendinger, Danny Sinno, Will Spano, and Trevor Tabit.

Summer 2020 – almost gone, never to be forgotten.

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