Emily Schindler spent most of her life in the water. She joined SPY when she was 9 and filled most of her time swimming laps in the pool.
When Emily was killed in a car crash in January 2004—during her freshman year at Frostburg State University—it seemed only fitting to her parents that they honor their daughter with a SPY scholarship given in her name.
“Right after her death [my husband] was like this is how we honor her—she was a swimmer and this is what she would have wanted,” said Emily’s mom Jane Schindler.
Each year, SPY swimmers compete in Winterfest at the University of Maryland, and during its inaugural year, Emily gave the devotion before the meet. Jane said listening to Emily talk about what swimming meant to her was very moving for her. And it’s why she and her husband Charles Schindler still hold SPY close to their hearts.
The Emily Schindler Memorial Scholarship is awarded annually to select graduating seniors on the SPY swim team who most exemplify Emily’s qualities of team spirit and kindness. But when it came to raising money for the scholarship fund, the Schindler’s received help from someone they weren’t expecting.
David Ensor was a swimmer for SPY and had never even met Emily. When he found out about the scholarship fund he called the Schindlers and asked if he could start a triathlon in Emily’s name to raise money.
On April 20, the seventh annual triathlon will be held in Emily’s name. To date, it has awarded more than $29,000 to swimmers from high schools in Anne Arundel County—an endeavor credited largely to Ensor’s generosity.
“It’s remarkable what he has done for us, and it is clear he does it for the right reasons," Charles said. "He isn’t in it for himself or for the credit. We appreciate how much work he puts into it.”
Not only does the annual triathlon hold a special meaning for the Schindlers, Emily’s brother Charlie, who is now 23, wants to be a profession triathlete.
“He didn’t do triathlons until Emily and I really think it is Emily guiding him,” Jane said. “He has gone on to compete in bigger ones and placed well and done well. He is motivated to do well and I think that’s an extension of his love for Emily.”
On April 20, the Schindlers, Charlie and their 19-year-old daughter Claire will all gather at the Severna Park Community Center as they kick off the 7th Annual Emily Schindler Memorial Triathlon.
As the family continues to raise money to honor their daughter, they never stop being grateful for the person who made it all possible.
“I don’t think David still realizes how much he means to us,” Jane said. “He keeps Emily’s name in the community. And people who participate say they feel Emily’s spirit and that she is there with them.”
The 7th Annual Emily Schindler Memorial Triathlon will be held April 20 at the Severna Park Community Center. The 800-yard swim, 9.5-mile bike and 3-mile run is held at the SPY Aquatics Center at 623 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd. and the B&A Trail.
Participants can also sign up for the Flamingo Feat distance—a 1600-yard swim, 18-mile bike and 6-mile run.
Check in time begins at 6 a.m. on April 20, and the first wave of swimmers start at 7 a.m. The registration fee is $50 for an individual, $90 for a relay team of two and $135 for a three-person relay team.