The special swim caps and wristbands they ordered hadn’t arrived yet, but more than 20 DC Wave swimmers competed anyway at Sunday’s 2009 All-Freestyle Meet at the Fairland Aquatic Center, hoping to do honor to a dear teammate’s memory.
DC Wave swimmer Chantice Caruth died last Wednesday after collapsing on the pool deck moments after the start of a practice session. She was 15. Rhonda Waller, a team parent and treasurer of the team’s booster club, said Caruth appeared to have suffered a seizure, but the cause of death was not yet known.
Waller said the swimmers and Caruth’s family were devastated. Caruth was a freshman at Woodrow Wilson Senior High. Her brother David, 10, is also a member of the team, but did not compete Sunday.
“It is a total shock,” Waller said. “All of us are just shaking in shock. What do we do now? … All of the younger swimmers did look up to her. She was an extremely quiet, loving person.”
Waller said Caruth’s mother urged the swimmers to compete and so they came, determined to represent well the club that had been Caruth’s home for eight years of training. Click here for meet results.
The approximately 100 members of the swim team came together at William H. Rumsey Aquatic Center a day after Caruth died to grieve and offer each other support. Grief counselors comforted the children, telling them the water and pool were safe. Parents and coaches brainstormed, deciding swimmers would order caps that say, “In loving memory of our champion Chantice Caruth,” and that the team also would wear wristbands.
The parents in the DC Wave Swim Team Booster Club, meantime, decided to sponsor a scholarship in Caruth’s honor and are asking the District’s department of parks and recreation to plant a tree in her honor. Caruth’s family declined to comment through a family friend.
Her funeral is set for Friday.
“We’ve been running in circles trying to handle this,” Waller said. But “there’s been an amazing outpouring of love and support from other teams in this area.”