When parents Sooky McFadden and Britt Schwendinger heard that the 25th anniversary of the Kingfish was fast approaching, they joined together to throw a celebration for a squad that had given their families so much joy.
“Our goal was to create an environment that had a little something special for all who came out to join us,” said Schwendinger about the Kentlands Kingfish reunion.
An anchor to so many families in the community since launching in 1994, the Kentlands Kingfish celebrated June 1 with an entertaining and moving 25th anniversary reunion on the lawn of the Kentlands Clubhouse. Many former team members and their parents were in attendance. Former coaches, families and swimmers, who started with the swim team, all came back to the clubhouse for the celebration.
Neighbors and young coaches such as Kate Connor, Ben Horton and Ben Rutt, who taught small kids how to swim with a kickboard, all returned for the festivities, not only reminiscing about backstroke times, but also manhunt victories.
“We looked up to those kids, now young adults, so much, and they were all incredible role models,” said McFadden.
Richard Swerdlow attended the 25th reunion and commented on the team’s successes. “It was enormously gratifying to see those early efforts had worked so well and lasted so long,” said Swerdlow, who oversaw the team for its first nine years in existence. “It made me happy to see that so many Kentlands residents had maintained our plans and dreams.”
Event organizers said the clubhouse lawn holds a special significance for all Kingfish families. This is where Friday night pep rallies were held prior to Saturday morning meets.
The grand event involved months of planning from a team of Kingfish families assembled to capture the spirit of the team’s longevity. It was a night to take a trip down memory lane and reconnect with old friends.
The evening’s centerpiece was “Alumni Alley,” which featured old team photos, T-shirts, ribbons and the “infamous” Kingfish “cups,” spelling out the cheer linked with Kingfish pride: “Go Time, Huh!”
A DJ came out to play summer hits from the past 25 years. Swerdlow addressed gatherers, who were treated to a bouncy castle, a “decorate-a-Kingfish” station and lawn games. There were food trucks on site to feed the crowd.
The highlight of the evening was presented by Eileen Dougherty of Backstreet Media who created a one-hour 25th anniversary video tribute to the club that wowed the audience. “I put out a call for the alums to record their favorite memories and send them to me for the 25th video since that’s so easy to do now,” Dougherty said.
More celebrations continued during this year’s Kentlands Fourth of July parade. Dayna Ingrassia designed a float as Brendan Emerson and Clyde Horton paraded through neighborhood streets in support of the popular swim club.
Even with all the fun, it was the return of past Kingfish swimmers, now adults, who really inspired those in attendance.
“The Kingfish team is my most favorite thing about living here, and it will always hold a special place in my heart,” said McFadden. “I love this team.”