July 21, 2019
GENE LEE OUTSTANDING SWIMMERS OF THE YEAR
2019 GENE LEE OUTSTANDING SWIMMERS OF THE YEAR
Two of these graduating senior athletes will receive special recognition this evening as the 2019 Gene Lee Outstanding Swimmers of the Year. The Gene Lee Award is given annually at the Indiana Swimming Long Course Senior State Championships to the outstanding Indiana Swimming Female and Male Athletes of the Year.
The Award was named after Gene Lee a former coach for the Indianapolis Athletic Club and Riveria Swim Club, who dedicated his life to the Indiana AAU and to the state's swimmers for almost 20 years. He brought recognition to Indiana Swimming through his excellent coaching, enabling swimmers to attain world prominence. He also provided a model for many young coaches to imitate, truly professionalizing coaching. Gene's truest contribution lies in the fact that he made a significant difference in the lives of many hundreds of young people as well as adults. He used swimming as a vehicle to teach young people how to deal with life.
To be eligible for the Gene Lee Outstanding Swimmer award, athletes must be nominated by their coach and have graduated from the 12th Grade in 2019. The nominees must have exemplified outstanding achievement in swimming, academics, community service, and leadership during their high school years in Indiana.
Female Athlete of the Year:
This year’s recipient of the
Gene Lee Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year is (Kelly Pash of
the Carmel Swim Club). Kelly is USA Swimming National Junior Team
Member and qualified for the FINA World Junior Championships in
2017 where she won 3 medals. She has won 8 individual medals
at the IHSAA State Championships where she swam multiple different
events throughout her High School career. As well she is a
numerus time Indiana Age Group High Point winner.
She was the recipient of the Indy Sport Award Swimmer of the Year in 2019 and has qualified for the Olympic Trials in 6 individual events so far this year. Described by her coach as a tremendous leader; always looking out for the younger athletes on the team. She is calm in the face of the storm and can always be seen smiling and dancing on the pool deck. Our honoree also leads though her efforts in the community volunteering with the Carmel Swim Club group help, Trunk or Treats and Quilts for Kids. She was also a USA Swimming Zone Select Camp Athlete Representative.
She graduated from Carmel High School this year with an Academic Honors & Technical Honors diploma.
She will continue her swimming career
this fall at the University of Texas.
Male Athlete of the
This year’s recipient of the Gene Lee Outstanding Male Athlete of the Year is (Elliot Cooper of the Avon Community Swim Team) Elliot is a USA Swimming Summer & Winter Juniors Qualifier, a top 4 finalist at the IHSAA State Championships, and has numerous top 8 finishes at Indiana Swimming Age Group and Senior State Championships.
Elliot has achieved 4.8 GPA and has been honored as the IBEW/WISH TV Student Athlete of the Month. He is also a member of the National Honor Society and the recipient of the President’s Award for Educational Excellence at Avon High School.He was elected Team Captain and the only swimmer at Avon High School to be named Team MVP Award winner three times in 2017, 2018, 2019.
Life has not come without challenges for this young man. Severe scoliosis led to spinal fusion surgery his sophomore year. After months of recovery on this 18th birthday he competed in his first Olympic Sized Triathlon finishing first in his age group. Throughout his senior year and weeks of pain and endless physical therapy he had to learn how to flip turn with his new spine. He met each obstacle and overcame them. Placement & rankings really were no longer the goal. It was his drive to continue to swim for the love of the sport.
He will continue his swimming career this fall at Purdue University.