Former Danville swimmer remembered;
Meet held in honor of Jaxxyn Wood
Published 9:12 am Tuesday, December 21, 2021
Jaxxyn Wood always seemed to be running in high gear, but he often found time to slow down for someone who needed a helping hand.
Wood, a former Danville High School swimmer and diver who died this summer at age 19, was remembered Sunday night at a swim meet held in his honor that celebrated both his love of life and his compassion for others.
Swimmers and divers from Danville and Boyle County competed in the inaugural Jaxxyn Wood Memorial Meet at Centre College.
“I think it’s great that both schools are coming together for this,” said Amanda Wood, Jaxxyn’s stepmother.
Several members of Wood’s family were on hand at Boles Natatorium for a brief tribute to Wood, and proceeds and donations from the meet went to a fund that will be used to help others in ways that his family said he would have liked.
“Jaxxyn was all the time caring, giving of himself,” said Tasha Singleton, an assistant coach at Centre who coached Wood when he was diving for Danville.
Wood died July 15 in a drowning accident in the Ohio River near Louisville. He was working as a commercial diver and was inspecting pipes at a power plant when onshore members of his crew lost audio contact with him.
John Anderson, who was Danville’s head coach during Wood’s years there, said Wood loved the water from an early age. Anderson recalled first seeing Wood when Wood was 3 or 4 years old and coming with his family to the pool at the Bunny Davis Recreation Center, where Anderson was working as a lifeguard.
“They came to the pool all the time. Almost every day they were out there,” Anderson said. “I just remember him as this little kid bouncing all over the place — high, high energy — and to see him grow into the young man that he was.”
Wood was one of 11 siblings, several of whom swam or dived competitively for recreation league, club or school teams and all of whom spent many summer days at the pool.
“It just comes from an early age,” his brother, Gary Braydyn Wood, said. “When you grow up with 10 siblings, what are you going to do? Go to the pool. We played sharks and minnows, and he’s the minnow.
You’re not catching him.
“For our family, it was just games, but it just slowly transitioned into a competitive sport.”
Danville didn’t have competitive divers before Jaxxyn, Gary Braydyn and Alayna Wood began competing in dive meets.
“Jaxxyn was just someone who would do it because he was good at it, and he made a name for Danville’s dive team,” Alayna Wood said.
Wood qualified for the 1-meter diving competition at the state swimming and diving meet for three straight years, and his best state result was an 11th-place finish in 2018.
“When you’d come to pick him up at the end of practice you’d always have to come inside to find him because he’d still be finishing up a few more dives instead of coming outside when he was supposed to,” said Bryan Wood, Jaxxyn’s father. “He was always working on being better.”
Singleton said Jaxxyn Wood simply loved to dive, whether in practice or in meets.
“He loved the sport, he loved everything about the high flying, the high risk, the high danger of diving. The faster the better. He would flip, he would twist, he wasn’t afraid to just let it loose and let it rip,” she said. “He was caring and loving, but at the same time he was a wild animal.”
The meet is one of only two home competitions on the schedule for Danville and Boyle, who were joined by swimmers from Garrard and Lincoln counties. Boyle was the host team, and current coaches of both schools had ties to Wood: Crystal Ellis, who coaches Boyle along with husband Jeremy, knew Jaxxyn Wood and coached Gary Brayden Wood for a time, and first-year Danville coach Sarah Beauman taught Jaxxyn Wood when he was a fifth-grade student in her computer lab at Jennie Rogers Elementary.
Wood was already displaying his heart for others as a youngster. In 2013, when he was 12 years old, he saved eight members of his family from an early-morning house fire he discovered while he was up late playing video games.
Anderson recalled hearing that when Wood got a job as a lifeguard, he would often use half of his paycheck to buy groceries for a family in need.
The money raised at Sunday’s meet will go to the Jaxxyn Wood Giving Pool, which the family will use to privately provide for the needs of others. Some of the money will be used to provide groceries or clothes for families who need them or to pay swim camp fees for students who otherwise couldn’t afford to go.
“We just tried to think as a family what would he want to do with the money, and he would want to privately do things for local people that nobody knows where that money’s coming from,” Amanda Wood said.
A sign posted at the door encouraged attendees to serve someone during the Christmas season in memory of Jaxxyn. “Make a phone call, buy a meal, or make someone laugh, as he did every day!” the sign read.