Texas Swimmers and Others Recognize Announcer Sam Kendricks, Battling Cancer, at Big 12 Championships

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Texas Swimmers and Others Recognize Announcer Sam Kendricks, Battling Cancer, at Big 12 Championships

This season was the 26th year of the Big 12 Swimming and Diving Championships, and Sam Kendricks had been the public address announcer for all of the previous 25. Kendricks has announced elite swimming competitions throughout the United States for decades, including five Olympic Trials, U.S. Nationals and the NCAA Championships, but the Big 12 meet was the one where he appeared the most times.

However, Kendricks was unable to attend or announce this year’s meet in Morgantown, W.Va., as he continues to battle against a rare form of cancer called Merkel cell carcinoma, so in his absence, swimmers and others on deck d showed their support to Kendricks in his fight. Swimmers from the University of Texas, where Kendricks was a student manager for Eddie Reese’s first national-championship team in 1981 and later an assistant coach for the women’s team, wore burnt orange shirts with the word “BOOMSHAKALKA,” which is Kendricks’ signature call for an outstanding performance in the pool.

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In a Facebook post sharing these images of the Texas teams in their “BOOMSHAKALAKA” shirts, Kendricks wrote:

“I want to take a moment to send a heartfelt ‘Thank You’ and ‘Hook’em!’ to the members of the Women’s and Men’s Swimming and Diving Teams at Texas who donned these shirts in support of me at the Big 12 Championships this week. It was very emotional for me, in a great way, to receive these pics today! Also, a few weeks ago, I received a banner from the Longhorns with a whole bunch of inspirational and encouraging notes that really came at the perfect time.

“When I was diagnosed with cancer back in the fall, I was very hopeful that I would have my surgery, push through recovery and radiation with the goal that we caught it before it spread. Unfortunately, in December I learned that it had indeed spread and that I faced a very daunting prognosis and battle. I worked really hard to get ahead and to be proactive, but this cancer has had the upper hand nearly every step of the way.

“With announcing impacted by Covid the last 24 months, I was eager to get back to pool deck to support the athletes and my swimming colleagues. I was particularly looking forward to Big 12s, the American Short Course Championships and most importantly the Women’s and Men’s NCAA Championships at Georgia Tech. However, the treatments and related side effects derailed those goals. My stamina and voice have taken a pretty big hit so announcing is just not in the cards right now. I do however have a goal attending a couple of days at the NCAA Championships with Shay next month.

“Even though I have not been able to personally visit with swimming community and friends about my illness, I have received countless well wishes, a slew of cards, letters, emails and text messages. Also, a number of thoughtful gifts showed up from swimming folks, friends and family from around the country. Each of these has brightened my day and provided me much happiness, no matter how small or large. Thank you to everyone for your kindness and compassion. Each, in their own special way, help me stay motivated and encouraged. For that I say thank you to my family, all of my friends in the swimming community and to all of my friends around the world who have taken time to send me your love, prayers and positive vibes.

Additionally, meet officials posed for photos Saturday evening while holding signs that read, “WE’RE A BOOMSHAKALAKA NATION!”

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More photos are available on the Facebook page BoomshakalakaSam2.0, where members of the swimming community have lended support for Kendricks and received updates on his health.

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Cynthia Potter
5 months ago

Praying for Sam. He is a fabulous person and professional.

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Dennis McKenna
5 months ago

I hope someone is selling those shirts as a fund raiser…I am a Golden Bear but would were that shirt in honor of all of the great stuff Sam has done for swimming