AKRON  On Nov. 12, the family and friends of former Green swimming standout Brooke McMahan will once again honor her memory with the Brooke McMahan Memorial Invitational swim meet.

McMahan was a Green High School graduate who passed away unexpectedly in July 2003 during a seizure. After graduating from Green, McMahan was a volunteer for the Humane Society and worked as an assistant swimming instructor for the YMCA. She also became certified in CPR and child care and was a member of the Summit Special Olympic Athletic Club (SSOAC), which was founded by parents of individuals with developmental disabilities.

The meet and clinic was started by a group of parents whose children swim with the Summit Special Olympics Athletic Club,” said Kim McMahan, Brooke’s mother. “I remember a good friend, Cathy Parker of Springfield Township, telling me that the team wanted to begin a meet in Brooke's name. She asked for permission to proceed. (I was) so touched, I responded by crying.”

McMahan’s family and friends decided worked together to hold an annual swimming meet to bring together the sport she loved and those who wanted to remember her and honor her life and the event is in its 12th year. This year’s meet will take place Nov. 12 at 10:30 a.m. at the O’Casek Natatorium on the University of Akron campus. The meet, which is free to attend, draws hundreds of athletes and volunteers from throughout the state.

Meet director Lee Eisinger said that the meet is a way to give back the community and is more of a clinic that a meet, per say. There will be about 150 to 160 athletes competing and about 120 volunteer swimmers in the water, including members of the University of Akron, Green High School and Firestone High School swim teams. Overall, there will be roughly 225 volunteers.

The entire event is funded by donations so that no athlete has to pay to take part and it is expected to be second in size in Ohio only to the state’s Special Olympics.

"It's insane, we'll have about 300 people in the water at the same time," Eisinger said. "As far as I know, this is the only meet like this in the country."

According to Kim McMahan, the meet fits very well with her daughter’s outlook on life.

“As part of the exciting day, there are relays that reflect Brooke's fun-loving personality,” Kim McMahan said. “She had a gift of gab, so much so that during practices, she would stop in the middle of the pool to chat with teammates who were doing laps. Though coaches called to her to keep moving, (but) they were unable to reach her.”

For that reason, the event also includes a game dubbed water polo ball and also, kick board relays.

At the meet, Summit County Judges Tom Teodosio and Linda Tucci Teodosio will lead the athletes in the Special Olympic's oath and University of Akron president Matthew J. Wilson and Ohio Special Olympics chief executive officer Kraig Makohu will also be part of the festivities, along with McMahan's mother, he father Chris and brother Alex. 

“When I step inside the natatorium with my husband, Chris, and son, Alex, I am overtaken by emotion. There really are no words that can express the gratitude we have for keeping Brooke's memory alive,” Kim McMahan said of the event. 

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or andy.harris@thesuburbanite.com.
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