Today, in the Washington Post, Donna St. George writes about Olivia Aull, a 14-year old swimmer with one of the teams in the Northern Virginia Swimming League, who died on July 11 in a car crash while on her way to swimming practice.
The teenager was buried this past Monday after a service that drew more than 400 people. Everyone was then invited to a reception at the Aull home, where swim families worked with friends and neighbors to organize food, drinks, tables, chairs and tents. The group set it up, cleaned it up, then drove away with 20 bags of garbage.
Olivia's death came amid the summer season, when swimmers are at the pool almost daily, not only for practice and meets, but also for Friday pep rallies, pasta dinners and movie nights. For six or eight weeks, swimming can become more than a sport. It can become a way of life.
Word of the tragedy spread quickly. In Olivia's memory, several Virginia teams have donated to a scholarship fund administered by the Northern Virginia Swimming League.
At meets the day Olivia died, teams from 18 divisions honored her with moments of silence. Afterward, at 10 p.m., her summer pool held a vigil that drew 300 to 400 mourners. One parent brought hundreds of candles from her church. "It struck me that Olivia had 500 best friends," said Maureen Choudhury, a close family friend.
Three days later, when the Greenbriar team competed again, its opponents from Dunn Loring decorated a banner in Olivia's memory and wore green memorial ribbons on their shirts.
When it was Olivia's turn to swim that day, her team left the lane open to honor the missing swimmer. Everyone stood and clapped for the race, which was won by Olivia's close friend Kacey Norwood.
Please do read the entire article.