On May 14, friends and family of Scott Kaplan gathered at the Gloucester County Institute of Technology (GCIT) pool for the ninth annual Scott Kaplan Memorial Swim.
Scott was the only child of Steve and Rose Kaplan of Blackwood. He was a 2005 Gloucester Catholic graduate, a member of the National Honor Society and also an accomplished swimmer. Scott died suddenly a month after his high school graduation.
As a member of the Gloucester Catholic Swim Team, Scott swam all four years while at Gloucester Catholic. At the Tri-County Conference Swimming and Diving Showcase, Scott won the 200 meter freestyle event every year of his high school career.
Gloucester Catholic’s swim coach, Kevin Nolan, recalled when Scott first competed in the event as a freshman. “Scott was actually the second seed, but he swam it that year and won it and he won it all four years.”
When Scott first clinched that event, he started a 13-year winning streak for his alma mater that remains intact to this day.
The Scott Kaplan Memorial Swim is held each May at GCIT as a way to remember Scott and to celebrate his love for the sport in which he excelled.
The event is organized for swimmers, friends and family to “just have fun,” Nolan said.
All proceeds from the swim event benefit the Scott Kaplan Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Quick, fun races are organized with some of the events pitting alumni against current GCHS swim team members.
“That’s funny to watch because the alumni do not want to lose to the current members of the swim team,” Nolan said with a laugh.
Scott’s father, Steve, said the memorial swim is “bittersweet.”
As he looked out at the Olympic-sized pool and saw and heard the camaraderie among the swimmers, he recalled how his son’s interest in swimming was sparked from watching the Olympics on TV.
Scott was 9 years old when he told his father: “Hey Dad, I’d like to try that.”
Steve replied to his son: “It’s hard work and you’ll have to swim a lot of laps.”
Scott said, “I don’t care. I’d still like to try.”
Steve said his son swam on three teams: the Camden County YMCA, Barclay Farms and Gloucester Catholic.
He used to take Scott twice a year to Toms River to swim the “magic mile,” which amounts to 66 laps in the pool.
Scott received acceptances at five colleges, but decided on Lehigh. He was set to major in physics.
Friend, classmate and fellow swim team member, John Chew, brings his 8-year old son, Jack, every year. Jack has been coming “ever since he was in a stroller.”
With tiny water droplets falling from his hair and rolling down his cheeks, Jack said he likes coming to the swim event because “I get to do cannonballs.”
Rose said her son would be so proud seeing the turnout for the event.
“Scott always had a smile on his face and he always wanted to help. He loved Gloucester Catholic. He just loved it,” she said.
She feels “blessed” that so many people came out to remember Scott and to support the event.
“We had such a nice turnout. Some of these kids don’t even know Scott and they still came out. He is smiling down on us all seeing all the kids and their parents.”