Kat Munson sat on the edge of Waveny Pool on a sunny afternoon Monday, remembering her friend Kelly Devine to more than two dozen high school swimmers from New Canaan and Norwalk who gathered round in the water. She’d met Devine, a fellow swim coach and New Canaan educator, through a summer swimming league, and when her friend died at age 36 five years ago following a brief illness, Munson and Norwalk High School swim coach Pam Raila “knew that we needed to do something to keep her memory alive, not just in terms of a being a swimmer and being a phenomenal student, which she was,” but also “just being this person that everyone felt they could go to.”
“She really was sunshine on any day, but particularly on a stormy day,” Munson said prior to the start of the fifth annual ‘Devine Dual’ between the two high school teams. “And what I love is how it’s not just about coming and swimming today but as you guys exchanged your ‘Buddy Bags’ earlier, we’re going to keep this buddy system going—it’s also about recognizing the importance of each other and celebrating each other’s victories and also being there to lift each other up whenever we’re faltering a little bit. Because that’s the kind of person that Kelly was. Kelly always thought about others. Service before self.