The YMCA Westside Silver Fins are a USA Swimming team at the Southwest Valley YMCA. The team ranges from 5 year olds who are fresh out of swim lessons to world ranked swimmers training for the Olympic Trials next summer. In that large spectrum we have many great young athletes doing amazing things, both in and out of the pool. This Y story is about one young man in particular.
Sean Maverick Gage is a junior at Brophy Prep. He drives over 20 miles each way to come to train with the Silver Fins at the Southwest Valley YMCA. Usually further pending on the time of year coming from Brophy prep. While doing this he is able to manage his time to achieve a 3.5 GPA, qualify for YMCA Nationals and already is being recruited by many top 25 Division I colleges. This story though starts with what he does outside of the pool.
Sean’s mother was stricken with breast cancer when he was very young. While trying to process if his mom would live to see his next birthday, his mom thought it would be good for him to attend a camp that helps young individuals deal with family members battling cancer. That memory never left him and as he got older he wanted to give back to that group and try to do more.
He started to go around to family members, valley businesses and swim teams to get donations to create a care package for those individuals. The care packages were received with excitement from the camp organizers, especially because a young man wanted to show the camp appreciation for what they did for him.
This wasn’t enough for Sean Gage. He started to ponder what more he could do to at least help raise awareness for breast cancer and those family members who are supporting their loved ones through this difficult time. In 8th grade it came to him; I will swim to Alcatraz! The first year there was mainly only family support and some trepidation he may hurt himself trying to accomplish such a feat with no open water experience. Sure enough he made it across and did it fast enough to raise a lot of media attention about a young man who just wanted to swim to Alcatraz because he loved his mom and wanted to just simply do his part to help raise awareness and money in hopes that one day there would be no more families stricken by this terrible disease.
2015 was his fourth year doing the event. He now has large sponsors that not only donate his pink wet suit every year, he is a growing young man you know or as he likes to say “coach I am just getting swoll”. Some of these sponsors donate as much as $10,000, most of which goes to different breast awareness groups and of course some going back to that same camp that helped him see light at the end of the tunnel and it would all be alright.
As his coach every day I am privileged to coach a young man who is an example for all of our valley youth that you can find something to get behind and support with vigor. He will be sorely missed in two years when he leaves us for college. But we all know he is destined for larger things in the world and we just hope that the lessons of healthy living and social responsibility through youth devolvement gained at the YMCA will always stay with him and that he is a bright example of what all our children are capable of.