Swimming and diving honors late teammate, Tate Ramsden '17
Men’s and women’s swimming and diving team won at home this past weekend against the University of Massachusetts and the State University of New York, New Paltz. But for both teams, to win at the Tate Ramsden Invitational, in memory of their late teammate Tate Ramsden ’17, made the meet more special.
Inspired by Princeton University’s Big Al Invitational hosted each December, the Tate Ramsden Invitational was initially spearheaded by team members of the class of 2017, who hopedto honor Ramsden at last year’s Dartmouth Invitational. Ramsden tragically passed away in 2015 after drowning from a shallow water blackout while on vacation with his family. Although the meet never came to fruition as planned, Katie Altmayer ’18 proposed the idea again at the start of this season.
“Our class was the last class that really got to know him and so to me it was really important to do this,” Altmayer said. “And I knew it was really important to the ’17s class, and so I wanted to take initiative to make sure it got done.”
Altmayer sprang into action at the beginning of the season. With the help of her teammates and the coaching staff, Altmayer contacted Ramsden’s family and the Class of 2017 to receive their support.
“My primary concern was to loop in the ’17s as he was their classmate to make sure they were comfortable with it,” Altmayer said. “The next step was to ask his parents. The response we got from both was overwhelmingly positive.”
As the final home meet of the season, the Dartmouth Invitational was the ideal meet to commemorate Ramsden. The team also honors its senior class at this meet, and given Ramsden’s impact on the Class of 2018, they felt that it was important to honor Ramsden’s legacy as well.
“This is traditionally one of the favorite meets of the team as a lot of families come out,” Altmayer said. “We want to keep the meet lighthearted and fun and embody the spirit of [Ramsden].”
Although only one coach, Eliot Scymanski, had the honor of knowing Ramsden, the coaches also felt that renaming the meet in honor of Ramsden was important.
“I didn’t know [Ramsden] myself, but I do know what it’s like to lose a teammate,” men’s and women’s head coach James Holder said. “I think it’s important to memorialize [Ramsden] in some way — this is what the upperclassmen wanted to do to support that.”
The meet began Friday evening with a short dedication and a moment of silence for Ramsden. Although Ramsden’s family was unable to make the trip up to Hanover for the ceremony, many members of the Class of 2017 were present for the meet.
“We view this meet as a fun time to race as you’re ramping up the yardage to prepare for Ivies,” Jack Cardwell ’18 said. “This was one time of the year that was [Ramsden’s] favorite and he loved to give it his all.”
Ramsden had an immeasurable impact on the team that continues today.
“[Ramsden] was one of the guys who brought me under his wing,” Cardwell said. “He was one of the most approachable guys that I ever met. He had a knack for connecting with everyone, and he was one of my best friends.”
Today, the team tries to continue Ramsden’s legacy by emphasizing his lighthearted approach to practice and his emphasis on friendship and family.
“He kept practice lighthearted but he never lost focus and he never wavered in his dedication to the sport,” Altmayer said. “He was someone who, whether they were older or younger, people wanted to embody him and the life he brought to the pool deck.”
The men have a memorial for Ramsden in their locker room.
“It’s always just a reminder to give it our all and to go out there and remember one of our teammates,” Cardwell said.
When news of his death reached the team in December 2015, just days after seeing him during their training trip, it radically altered the mindset of the team. In the weeks following, the team rallied together. Several members, including Cardwell, traveled to Ramsden’s home in Nashville, Tennessee for the funeral.
“I just have a distinct memory of holding each other, letting out the grief,” Cardwell said. “If there is anything positive that came out of it, it showed how much the team is a family and that they are there if you need them.”
The Big Green had a stellar weekend in the pool as well, with Connor LaMastra ’21 and Hayley Winter ’18 each setting new pool records. But in the final home event of the season, it was clear that this was no ordinary meet.
“I’m hoping that this name stays with [the meet] for years to come,” Altmayer said. “Just because I can’t see future teams not wanting to embody all that he was. And if that spirit and energy can be carried forth into the future I think it could only benefit future teams even if they didn’t know him.”