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'He impacted so many athletes and students' lives: Beloved Chandler teacher, coach dies of COVID-19

Kerry Croswhite was a legend on Chandler High School's campus and always there for his students and athletes. He lost his battle with COVID-19 on Tuesday.

CHANDLER, Ariz. — A gentle giant.

Larger than life.

Always there for his students.

These are some of the ways current and former students of Kerry Croswhite describe the teacher and swim coach at Chandler High School.

Croswhite lost his month-long battle with COVID-19 Tuesday night.

“So, we were able to have the opportunity to tell them how much we love him and how many people are praying and outreach and support,” said Laurie Croswhite, Croswhite's wife.

The family had one last opportunity to say goodbye to Croswhite, who passed while they played Van Morrison’s “These Are the Days."

One former student opened up about what the Swim Coach meant to her.  In 2008, Kandace Reyes was swimming for Chandler High School, when she suffered a seizure in the pool. Coach Croswhite jumped in and pulled her out of the water.

“I’m literally living a healthy life because of him,” Reyes said.  “He checked my vitals and gave me CPR, which is why I’m here today.”

News of Croswhite’s passing hit Reyes very hard. 

“Knowing that he’s not here and he’s not the coach at Chandler High anymore is heartbreaking.  I think about his family,” Reyes said, fighting through tears.  

“I think about his family and what they are going through, and I can’t imagine that pain.  It just breaks my heart for everyone involved.”

Laurie Croswhite and his daughter Bristyn sat down with NBC Nightly News and discussed what Croswhite meant to them.

“He might be gone,” said Bristyn Croswhite, who swam for her father for four years in High School. “But he’ll always live with us with the things that he taught us.”

“I told him how proud we were,” Laurie Croswhite said. “Thanked him for who he was. We were able to tell him how proud we were of how much he fought and how he tried.”

If Croswhite was able to address his students one last time, his wife knows what he would say: “I think he would want everybody to just live for today.  Make sure you take those pictures together. Spend your time together.  Treasure your moments. Enjoy your family and friends every day.”

And always keep swimming.

A friend of the family has set up a GoFundMe to help the Croswhite’s cover medical expenses.

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