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Kevin McNamee was at the A-10 meet in Feb-
ruary, too, wearing the hat of a rival administra-
tor, but freely admitting that his heart was
bleeding a little brown.
"To sit there and be witness to what he's ac-
complished was just very special," Kevin said.
"When you can match passion with compassion,
you've got something special, and that's Sean's
great gift. It's not just x's and o's at that level. It's
about connectivity."
The common threads that tie the Skehan and
McNamee eras together have nothing to do
with success in the pool. Winning has merely
been a welcome byproduct of the way the pro-
gram has operated.
"Sean has created a culture where he gets the
guys to understand that it's a team sport, even
though it's really an individual one," Questa said.
That was never more evident than at the 2006
A-10 Championships. Going into the final event,
the 400 freestyle relay, the Bonnies led UMass by
one point. Senior Ryan Moore was the fourth-
fastest freestyler on the team.
Roman Margulis was swimming better
that day, Moore forfeited his leg on the
relay, pointing to the A-10 trophy and saying,
"That means way more."
The Bonnies won the race, securing the team
title. For his actions, Moore won the 2005-2006
A-10 Sportsmanship Award.
"Goals within the athletic realm have never
been a real focal point. It's more about prepping
guys for their life challenges after college. That
was always the mantra when Kevin was here and
when John Skehan was coaching. That consis-
tency of message has allowed us to forge some-
thing that kids want to invest in," Sean said.
"Swimming is a great lesson in life because
you're going to do things that ordinary people in
your age group aren't going to have to do or
want to do."
Summer or winter, the sun's never up at 5 a.m.
when the swimmer's alarm goes off. Two hours,
three days a week, staring at the bottom of the
pool before 8 a.m. Two more hours each after-
noon, with only Wednesdays off. Weightlifting
and dry-land work from 5:30 to 7:45 a.m. on
Tuesdays and Thursdays. And then you go to
A college swimmer's life is a merciless grind --
"I don't even like taking long showers anymore,"
Sean said -- but a grind that binds.
"It's a tight fraternity, a brotherhood of people
who are willing to push themselves to levels that
put your head in a can on a daily basis," Sean
said. "There are a lot of inherent life lessons. If
they can survive here, out there will be a cup-
Eversmann is among the scores of current and
alumni SBU swimmers who sport an old-school
Bonaventure "B" tattoo to signify the proud
bond they share.
"You go from being strangers to being broth-
ers. How amazing is that?" said Eversmann.
"Sean always wanted the guys to understand
that this is a brotherhood, that you have a family
here, and that continues long after you graduate.
Those guys are vital and crucial to my life to this
day, and I know that's true for so many swim-
For a man who admits he has "no clue" what
his record is, that lifelong bond represents Sean's
greatest satisfaction from coaching.
"More impressive is seeing the accomplish-
ments that the kids have achieved in the next
facets of their lives and hearing their stories
when they come back to visit, hearing how
much it's prepared them for life," Sean said.
Said Ekimoff: "There are very few things that
get Coach emotional, but one of them is when
we all get back together to talk about how
much our swimming careers have meant to us."
The McNamees never hammered the pro-
gram's legacy into their swimmers' heads, Gian-
odis said. Almost by osmosis, they figured it out
for themselves.
"Kids who swim at Bona's really come to rec-
ognize how much the program means," Gian-
odis said. "It's not about what they can get out
of the program, but what they can contribute to
For a man who grew up overshadowed by the
legacies of his father and brother, Sean Mc-
Namee now casts the largest shadow of all. Still,
the bullet hole in his father's heart left a big one
in his. His siblings always share stories of their
dad to fill in the blanks for Sean, but they will al-
ways be someone else's memories.
Leading the program his father started 65
years ago makes Sean feel truly connected.
"The legacy of our dad is important to every-
one in our family, but most important to Sean,"
Kevin said. "It's a living commitment for him."
Despite his initial reluctance to replace Kevin as
coach, Sean realizes that the tug of family, of a
man he never knew, was impossible to ignore.
"Trying to be close to him is the main reason I
came back, to try to close some gaps in the rela-
tionship I couldn't have with him," Sean said,
wiping away tears. "You always want to hear
that validation out of your father, but that's obvi-
ously something I'm never going to hear.
"I just go to his gravesite and tell him, `I hope
it's happening the right way, Dad.' You just hope
you make your father proud."
(Missel is director of media relations and mar-
keting at St. Bonaventure.)
Sean always
wanted the guys
to understand
that this is a
brotherhood, that
you have a family
here, and that
long after you
graduate. Those
guys are vital and
crucial to my life to
this day, and I
know that's true
for so many
Class of 2000 and a member
of the '99 title team