February 24, 2020
Natalie Birthday Swim
Thank you to everyone who participated. The energy of the event is so uplifting. This day could come and go with only heartache, but because of what everyone brings to the swim / breakfast, it is a joyful day too. The pool and deck was filled with swimmers not yet born when Natalie passed, swimmers that never met Natalie, but have been to NKB Camp or the Texas swim meet, which is kind of the swim meet version of NKB Camp, swimmers that shared lanes and memories with Natalie for most of her life. The pool and deck was filled with parents – parents whose children were friends with Natalie, parents whose children have friends from Natalie Camp, and parents of young swimmers who wear purple caps every day. The pool and deck was filled with leaders from camp – young adults who were Natalie’s friends, young adults who are friends of Natalie’s friends, parents who have children that were Natalie’s friends and Lee, who made camp possible for everyone and at age 87 travels across the country every year to swim her laps (27 x 50 this year) and watch the pool full of purple caps. The pool and deck was filled with Natalie’s family, both by blood and by spirit.
- The 800 free relay was Natalie’s relay. 6 weeks after Natalie’s passing, Abbey and Hilary, two of Natalie’s best friends, Leah, Natalie’s sister, and 12-year-old Rachel swam the 800 free relay at YMCA Nationals in her honor. Dave Korst, the GBY coach, and I stood in the Florida sun, with tears in our eyes as the girls swam. 7:58, anchored by a lifetime best for Leah, who went to the blocks on crutches still recovering from the accident. One of the most amazing relays ever. There is a picture in our trophy case of the 4 girls. Three of the four were able to make it back yesterday.
- Christian, a recent NKB Camp participant, never met Natalie. He drove 360 miles, each way, from college just to swim 25’s with his friends from camp and pay homage to what the spirit of NKB has meant to his life.
- There was sadness. Brian, Natalie’s uncle, who had cooked pancakes at every NKB Birthday swim, was missing. He passed in December.
- The first Birthday swim was 17 times 500, Natalie’s favorite race. On Saturday Rick, a parent of an NKB camper, family friend, and regular AM swimmer during the time we practice, swam 27 x 500. No fanfare, just a solitary tribute…and then came in on Sunday to swim the NKB Birthday swim with his children.
Again, thank you.