Dec. 9, 2015
THE FLATS – The Georgia Tech swimming & diving team welcomed Chase Smith, an eighth-grader from Trafalgar, Ind., to its practice last Friday. Smith, who was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma in June 2014, came as part of the Tim Tebow Foundation’s W15H program. Ewing’s sarcoma is a form of bone cancer.
Smith was in town to have dinner with former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow and to attend the 2015 SEC Championship game, but his love of swimming brought him to the McAuley Aquatic Center. A competitor in the 100 and 200 butterfly, Smith sees swimming as an outlet to be as competitive as possible. “I love to race, so it gives me the opportunity to race 24/7,” Smith said.
“We were excited to have the opportunity to meet Chase,” head coach Courtney Shealy Hart said. “We’ve heard about him through the swimming community over the past couple of months, and I got a phone call a few days before the visit saying that swimming was a love of his. They asked if we could meet him and introduce him to the team, and we were excited to be able to do that.”
Chase was able to get in the water and swim with the team Friday afternoon after meeting the team and coaches. He was even able to see Coach Hart’s Olympic gold medals from the 2000 Sydney games.
“It’s just a blessing,” Smith said of the opportunity to swim in the pool used in the 1996 Olympic Games. “I thank God for the blessings I have, to come to all of these facilities, to look around, meet all of the wonderful people and have a great time.”
The team and coaches took a lot from the experience, as well.
“I think it was a great opportunity for our team,” Hart added. “To see and meet Chase, having known his story, was an experience we will never forget. I think he had a great time, as did we.”
“My husband and I were so impressed with the visit,” said Chase’s mother, Kelli Smith. “We were so appreciative of Coach Hart, her staff and the entire GT swimming program. From the moment we arrived, they embraced Chase into their practice. It was apparent that Coach Hart has created a culture that stretches beyond the pool. The team made Chase feel completely at home while on deck. It was great to see after being away from swimming for several months.”
For the second time in program history, Georgia Tech and the McAuley Aquatic Center will serve as the host site for the 2016 NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships. The Women’s Championships will be held March 16-19, followed by the Men’s Championships March 23-26. Georgia Tech previously hosted the 2007 NCAA Championships and the CRC was also the site of the 1996 Summer Olympics swimming and diving competitions.