Nov. 28 marked the one-year anniversary of the loss of former DeWitt swimmer Tylor Higgins to Wolff-Parkinson’s White – a heart condition that is very rarely fatal.
To commemorate an individual that was so important to the DeWitt community as well as the swimming program, the DeWitt boys swim team hosted a memorial swim and event night at DeWitt High School.
“We did do it last year too, but it wasn’t like a memorial,” DeWitt varsity swim coach Brock Delaney said. “It was important for us as a team to remember Tylor, but just as important to have a physical outlet because they really needed that.”
Luke Vaughn, who along with Cody Decker helped rescue two people from a burning car after witnessing an accident while on spring break in Palm Coast, Fla. earlier this year, helped put on the original event along with several other members of the DeWitt swim team.
For last year’s swim, the team opted to raise money for the Higgins family to offset funeral expenses. This year, the money raised will be donated to the American Heart Association in Tylor’s name.
Several members of the Higgins family came in for the event, including some from as far away as California.
“It was a day to put him back in the forefront of our minds,” Delaney said. “There was a good portion of them up in the stands and his grandpa, who’s got to be about 70, jumped in there and was swimming. He only swam 200 yards but he was swimming and remembering his grandson and that’s what I’ll probably remember the most.”
The event lasted for about four hours and also included a pot luck and a chinese lantern ceremony in remembrance of Tylor.
Delaney thought this particular honorary swim was important since some of the new swimmers on his team participated, even though they were not familiar with Tylor before he passed.
“We never want to forget Tylor. The current seniors were sophomores when he was senior and he was a senior captain,” Delaney said. “Every year less and less people will be swimming that actually swam with him as a teammate, but for the freshman and sophomores now, it’s really important for them to understand what the juniors and seniors are feeling on a day like that.”
For most teams around the Mid-Michigan area, the beginning of the season is just getting a feel for things and starting to form camaraderie as a unit.
For DeWitt, a powerful and emotional night has already brought the team together in memory of their fallen teammate.
“It’s going to be something that will always be associated with our program and the beginning of our swim season,” Delaney said, “and it can definitely bring our group closer together and it makes you realize that swimming’s just a sport. We had a life-changing event take place a year ago.”