Monday, July 23, 2007

Olivia Aull, Swimming and Community

I had written a few days ago about the swimming league my son belongs to.

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.


Praba Ram said...

read the article, Suj in WP. Terrible tragedy. Did you guys actually know the family? Sad story.

I looked at some teams here, and there's one in McLean Hamlet which is just a few blocks from my house. They have a community pool. So - might be worth to try next year. You have been a great resource for this. Thank you!

Sunday works perfect! Will email you.

small squirrel said...

Really really sad. Just before I left there was a spate of tragic car accidents like this one and I remember passing one on I-95in Springfield and reading that a young girl had died in that accident. Broke my heart.

Anonymous said...

Olivia && i were really good friends. she went to my school && it really breaks my heart. i miss you olivia ♥

Tharini said...

no new posts? write soon.

Sujatha Bagal said...

Praba, we did not know the family personally - their team is in a different division. But there are so many families like the Aulls, with dedicated, hard working kids. It's sad that this happened to anyone at all.

SS, thanks for your comment.

Anon, I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing.

Sunshine, it's really sad that so many of us have similar tragedies to point to. It's especially tough when kids are the ones whose lives are cut off.

Tharini, thanks! Just too many things going on. Our shipment came in a few days ago and still unpacking. :(

Anonymous said...

I knew Olivia.
She was on both of my swim teams and I found out she died at practice.
I still miss her so much.
She was such an incredible person.
Her family is so incredible, both of her parents and her sister.
No one deserves something like this.
RIP Livs.

Anonymous said...

I miss you Olivia. I think about you all the time; it's not fair for anything like this to happen to anybody and definitely not you.

Sujatha Bagal said...

Anon and MO, I hope you guys have someone to talk to. Please do share your thoughts with your friends and families. Thank you for leaving a comment. God bless.

whg8 said...

i am so srry. I am sure this is what she would want u guys to do. BE strong

Anonymous said...

i miss you so much girl.
greenbriars not the same without you.
i love you gir;.