Opinion

Farewell too soon, coach | Editorial

In the early afternoon on Feb. 16 I found an article I wrote after Seth Dawson first started coaching the boys swim team at Kentlake High little more than a year ago.

I had looked it up after I heard the news Dawson was killed in a plane crash in the early morning hours of Feb. 15 with two other swim coaches.

He would have wrapped up his second season with the boys team this past weekend at the 4A state championships at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.

It hit me like a ton of bricks to read it.

Seth Dawson plans to stop Kentlake’s revolving door for boys swim coaches.

Dawson, who was coaching boys and girls high school swimming in Corbett, Oregon, last year, has taken over the Falcons boys swim and dive team this season after Diana Ekstrom decided not to return for a second season at the helm.

“I plan to be here a long time,” Dawson said. “I’ve heard about it, that they’ve had a hard time keeping coaches.”

He is the Falcons’ fourth coach in as many years, but he intends to stop that trend.

I liked Seth. He seemed to have figured out how to juggle the demands of the parents, the varying talent levels of his athletes and his day job as a club aquatics coach.

What was great for me as a reporter was his willingness to work with me.

If I wanted to talk to him, he was cool with that, if I wanted to interview a swimmer he was happy to pull the kid out of the pool during practice.

I recently discovered Seth was terrible about checking his emails, in fact, he told me as much in November before boys swim started.

Yet, when I emailed him for a quote after the Kentlake girls swim team took third place at state in November, Seth emailed right back the next day.

He had just finished his first season with the girls team but it was clear he was proud of what they had accomplished.

That third place trophy was the school’s best finish in girls swim and dive at state which was pretty impressive given the competition particularly from Skyline, which won its third straight 4A swim championship.

That trophy was immediately put on display in the front office at Kentlake. It made me smile every time I saw it.

Now, it will be a bittersweet thing to look at it.

And I hate to see the Kentlake community go through another tragedy. It seems incredibly unfair. My heart goes out to the swimmers who spent hours at the pool with him, both from Kentlake and his club kids, to the parents who knew him but most of all to his family.

Seth was only a year or two younger than me. I am 33. I don’t remember exactly how old he was when I interviewed him in November 2010 for the first time.

I do remember thinking how odd it was for me to be older than a coach. But only just a bit.

Knowing he was young reminds me of a reality I have faced often as a reporter — life is short, often too short, and even though I only knew Seth a little bit I was looking forward to having a long, fruitful professional relationship with him.

He was bringing stability to the boys swim program and brought a group of talented Falcon girls to a peak in the fall.

Who knows where Seth could have led those kids to in the future. It’s a shame we will never find out.

Rest in peace, Seth. I hope the pool is fast wherever you are now.

 

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