Monday, June 30, 2014

Memoriam for a Man I Did Not Know

Chris Clarke's friend, Ben Cristoffel, wore the number that
Chris had been assigned for the Indy Aquatic Challenge

A week ago Sunday, I participated in my first ever 
open water swim competition. It was a race sponsored 
by my club, Indy Aquatic Masters.
The day was beautiful, the water warmer than
expected, and the people were cordial and happy.
I was slow and did not finish anywhere near
my expected time, mostly because I am slow, even
on a good day; I learned I need to swim with
my head up to navigate my way around the course.
The "usual suspects" won, of course,
the men and women who are always fast and strong.
But one of them was missing.

Chris Clarke, one of IAM's best, most competitive
swimmers died during the race. At this point,
no one knows what happened except that it was
totally unexpected. Personnel had reached him quickly,
but it was too late. A day that had started with
so much sunshine was suddenly dulled 
by dismay and sorrow.

Yesterday, a memorial practice was held
at Five Seasons health club.
Eighty-two people showed up to swim a practice
routine designed by Chris. While I had been at sessions
with him, I hadn't been a member long enough 
to know him personally, so I had some concerns 
about taking part in the session.
But, as I read about Chris in tributes written by his
friends and teammates, and in the news media,
I found that I did know Chris.

Words like "enthusiastic," "humorous," "passionate," 
and "compassionate" were common themes.
As I looked around yesterday at my fellow members,
I found those same characteristics are reflected 
in the people who are members of IAM. 
 To effectively remember Chris Clarke, all those 
folks need to do is to continue to be the same
enthusiastic, humorous, passionate, and
compassionate people I have come to respect and love.
Maybe one day those qualities will rub off on me,
just a bit, making me not just a better swimmer,
but a better person, as well.

1 comment:

William Kendall said...

It happens, strangely- someone young just goes like that. It's a good tribute to him. And he died doing something he enjoyed.

It does sound like he was well liked.