Swim meet to honor Lake County teen who died last year
A swim meet set for this weekend will honor a young Lake County athlete who died nearly a year ago after collapsing at practice.
Dubbed the Josh Church "Race Me," the competition at Vernon Hills High School also aims to spread the word about heart screenings for teenagers.
Josh, 17, of Wadsworth, became ill during a practice at Vernon Hills High in November 2016 and collapsed in the locker room.
Despite no previous medical issues, Josh had suffered a fatal cardiac arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, said his mom, Alane Church.
"He was a healthy 17-year-old boy," she said. "Why his heart stopped, they don't know."
This weekend's swim meet at Vernon Hills High, 145 Lakeview Parkway, is hosted by the CATS Aquatic team, for which Josh swam. The team decided to name the meet after Josh.
"We thought changing the name of the meet would be a great way for other swimmers to learn about Josh and what a great individual he was," coach Jeff Arce said.
"Race me" was Josh's regular challenge to rival swimmers, his mom said, and that's why the competition's name includes that phrase.
"It's a huge honor," Alane Church said. "And I love that Josh continues to touch people and help people."
The meet starts Friday evening, continues Saturday and concludes Sunday afternoon. It's expected to attract hundreds of young swimmers from northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.
The meet is open to the public. Admission is $5.
Proceeds from the sales of swim caps and T-shirts in the lobby will benefit the Josh Church Scholarship Fund and the Max Schewitz Foundation, a nonprofit group working to research and prevent heart-related deaths of young people.
The Lake Bluff nonprofit group also promotes heart screenings, and people will be able to pick up information about screenings at the swim meet.
"We are eager to provide EKG tests to help identify at-risk swimmers in our area," said Mary Beth Schewitz, the foundation's executive director.
For race times and other information, visit teamunify.com/EventShow.jsp?id=812849&team=iscats.