Passages: Indiana Swimmer Chase Smith Dies at 19 After Long Battle With Cancer

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Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

19-year-old Chase Smith of Trafalgar, Indiana died Sunday, April 4 in his home with his wife Sadie by his side after a long, six-year battle with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare cancer of the bone and tissue.

Smith had initially fought off the disease four times since being diagnosed in July 2014 according to the Daily Journal.

Smith was born June 4, 2001 and had been in love with swimming since he was six-years-old. In a story from the Indy Star, Smith’s parents woke to Chase watching swim videos on Saturday mornings, instead of cartoons. Wearing a Speedo, swim cap and goggles, he would practice flip turns on the sofa.

His dad remembers 9-year-old Chase wanting to dress just like Brad, the swim coach at Indian Creek. Chase wore a tie, carried a clipboard and a stopwatch to help his dad coach sectionals that year.

Chase Smith concluded his swimming career in 2020 at Indiana High School state, finishing 28th in both the 200 and 400 freestyle relays for his high school Indian Creek. He was a six-time Indiana state champion by age 12 and was nationally ranked in the 100 butterfly in long course before his diagnosis.

He spent the last year helping coach his alma mater swim team at Indian Creek with his dad and sister Kaitlin in the pool that was named after him in August of 2020.

“I am so passionate about swimming, my mind goes 100% to it. My mind doesn’t allow me to think about anything else other than the kid I’m coaching or the workout I’m writing or the relationship I’m building with someone while I’m here,” Chase said at a meet in January. “It definitely is an escape from everything.”

In April 2020, scans showed that new tumors were popping up yet again, this time in both of his lungs and in his left arm and shoulder. By the middle of the month, the cancer had spread all over his body — including in his skull, around his pituitary gland and in his spinal fluid. Even the most optimistic diagnoses gave Smith just three to five months to live. And Smith held on for a year.

Four days later on April 29, 2020, Chase Smith married his high school sweetheart Sadie, who was a freshman diver at IUPUI this year. Chase was present for her first collegiate meet, sitting right in front of the 3m board.

“I love him with everything that I have. The least I can do in this difficult time is to praise our amazing God, take advantage of the gifts that he has given me,” Sadie said after that meet to the Indy Star, “and make Chase proud.”

“I learned from Chase through this journey every day is a gift and just not waste that,” said his dad Brad. “Appreciate every day…enjoy the time that God has given us right there in front of us and make the most of that because we don’t know what tomorrow is going to hold.”

Tributes from social media came pouring out marked with #ChaseStrong

Services for Chase Smith are pending. 

1 comment

  1. avatar
    Carolyn Valdez

    God did bless you both, you found each other. God’s plan is perfect, even when it hurts.
    May God continue empower you to do his will. Both of you have been an inspiration to all people of faith.