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'Hug your kids': Michigan swimmer, 4-time state champ Ian Miskelley dies at 19

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Ian Miskelley was, in many ways, the rock of Michigan's swimming and diving team.

If a teammate was sick, Miskelley was there. If a nervous freshman was having a hard time finding his way, Miskelley was there, perhaps doing something as simple as walking them to class. If anything needed to be done, again, Miskelley had it.

Ian Miskelley, a Michigan swimmer, died at age 19.

"I'll just say, we've gotta appreciate each other, we've gotta appreciate the people around you," said Mike Bottom, Michigan's swimming and diving head coach, who said he saw such kind gestures by Miskelley as recently as last week. "When his teammates needed something, they could go to Ian and he would always drop whatever he's got going on and get it done.

"It's just really important that people take from this a real understanding that you've gotta appreciate people every day for who they are. You might not have that chance again."

Miskelley, 19, a native of Holland, Michigan, and a four-time state champion swimmer in high school, died unexpectedly Monday. A cause of death was not announced by the team, or in his obituary.

Miskelley was starting his junior year at Michigan, where he competed in a number of events, including the backstroke, butterfly and individual medley.

In high school at Holland Christian, he won four Division 3 state championships in 2018: 100 backstroke, 200 individual medley, 200 freestyle and 200 medley relay. He holds two Division 3 finals state records, in the 200 IM (1:49.58) and as part of the 200 medley (1:33.01). That 200 IM relay team broke its own state record.

Miskelley was all-state as a junior and senior, and was a regular on the prep club scene, medaling on three relay teams at the 2017 Winter Junior Nationals.

His obituary called him a "kind and determined young man" with an "indomitable spirit."

"You just want to be there and say, 'Hey, we love you, I wish you were here,' hug you, appreciate you. We don't have that chance," Bottom said.

"Any coach, teacher or parent, hug you kids, and tell them you love them."

Miskelley is survived by parents Steve and Jill, and sister Chelsea, as well as his grandparents and several aunts, uncles and cousins.

His funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in Holland, with visitation prior starting at 9:30. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to the Ian Miskelley Memorial Fund, which is run by the Holland/Zeeland Community Foundation.

Twitter: @tonypaul1984