Legacy Of Young Swimmer Inspires Others
By Paul Peavy
Mac Crutchfield was a 12-year-old boy who was passionate about swimming. He would get up at 4:30 in the morning to ride with his mother from Cairo, Ga., to swim practice in Tallahassee, Fla., then drive another hour after school for another two-hour practice. Mac loved the water so much that sometimes he would take three showers a day to get his fix!
As important as swimming was to Mac, his Christian faith was even more important. He was very conscious of his Christian example inside and outside of the pool, and after one swim meet felt he needed to apologize to his coach for not paying attention and not giving his best effort. When is the last time you heard a kid apologize to a coach or a teacher? Mac would always watch how Olympians handled defeat and interacted with teammates and opponents alike. He also admired the effort that swimmers in the Special Olympics program put forward and always tried to encourage them and give them hugs.
One day, Mac was outside playing in a downpour, running around with his mouth wide open and drinking straight from God’s water faucet. Suddenly, Mac slipped, hit his head, was knocked unconscious and drowned in a drainage ditch. What cruel irony is that? A boy who loved water and swimming so much drowned playing in the rain.
Mac’s mother, Maggie, decided to do something positive with her son’s tragedy and put his love of swimming to good use. She created The Mac Crutchfield Foundation to raise money for collegiate swim scholarships and to help fund Special Olympics swim meets. The foundation has raised more than $20,000 so far.
When Olympic gold medal swimmer Ryan Lochte heard about the foundation, he volunteered to be its spokesperson. The foundation hosted a golf tournament and fundraising dinner in Tallahassee, with Lochte as the featured guest. Fellow Olympic gold medalist Brendan Hansen learned about the dinner and tournament and decided to fly in from Texas. Together, Lochte and Hansen charmed the pants off kids and adults alike—sharing stories of what it was like to be a young (and scared) swimmer, tales of misfortune (including what happens when you drink too much Mountain Dew before a big meet), and words of encouragement based on their years of dedication and eventual Olympic success.
Maggie Crutchfield is turning tragedy into triumph as she reminds the swimming community of her son’s love of life, love of swimming and love of Christ. Whoever said “Sports don’t matter” has never known how sports—and those like Mac Crutchfield who’ve been impacted by sports—can inspire athletes young and old alike.