Alec John Cosgarea, a champion McDonogh School swimmer who also competed for the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, died Monday at Maryland Shock Trauma Center after being injured in an automobile accident.
The McDonogh senior and Owings Mills resident was 17.
Mr. Cosgarea was on his way home Monday evening after participating in a NBAC competition at the club's Meadowbrook facility in Mount Washington when he lost control of his 2006 Ford Fusion on Greenspring Avenue and hit a tree.
"Ironically, he had only one race and he was in it with his older brother, Drew, and it was the 200-meter backstroke," said NBAC coach Erik Posegay, who had coached Mr. Cosgarea since September. "Even though he came in third, it was a lifetime best, and at the end of he race, he came out of the pool and said, 'Coach, what do I have to do when we start again on Tuesday?'"
Mr. Posegay described Mr. Cosgarea as "one of the most charismatic individuals I've ever coached."
"Alec got along with everyone and was a great teammate. He was a tireless worker and goal-oriented. He was always asking questions about how he could get better," said Mr. Posegay. "He was so driven and had a bright future ahead of him."
Alec John Cosgarea was born in Columbus, Ohio, into a family of swimmers — his father, Dr. Andrew John Cosgarea, at Pennsylvania State University, and his mother, Sheila Sullivan Cosgarea, at the University of Virginia.
His elder brother, Andrew "Drew" Cosgarea, a sophomore at Stanford University, is a member of the Stanford swim team and NBAC. His younger brother, William "Will" Cosgarea, is a junior at McDonogh and a member of that school's swim team.
After his family moved to Owings Mills in 1998, Mr. Cosgarea attended Montessori School and Immaculate Conception School in Towson before he enrolled at McDonogh in the sixth grade.
"Alec began swimming for NBAC when he was 6 years old," said his mother, a marketing and advertising executive. His father is an orthopedic surgeon and associate professor in the department of orthopedic surgery, in the division of sports medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
In the years since he began swimming competitively, Mr. Cosgarea, who was a member of the McDonogh varsity swim team, compiled a remarkable record. He was the 2012 Maryland state champion in the 100 and 200 fly and was a member of the 2012 All-Maryland Team.
He was also a high school All-American and a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association record holder.
Scott Ward, head swim coach at McDonogh, coached Mr. Cosgarea for two years in middle school and for the past three years in high school.
"Alec had talent, and I'm not a big believer in talent. It's what you do with it. Over the years he figured out the value of hard work, but he never lost his sense of humor," said Mr. Ward. "He liked doing practical jokes. He kept it fun."
Mr. Ward said Mr. Cosgarea never was intimidated by competition.
"He loved competition and wasn't afraid. He'd say, 'I'm good, Coach. I'm ready,'" said Mr. Ward. "He's exactly the kind of person coaches love to work with."
He said that Mr. Cosgarea had "tremendously improved" but was "not even close to his potential."
Mr. Cosgarea had a grueling daily schedule.
"He was up at 6 a.m. and then to school. By 3 p.m., he was training at NBAC for three hours, and then home by 7 p.m. for dinner, and then homework," said his mother, who added that her son was beginning to receive calls from college recruiters.
Ms. Cosgarea said that Mr. Cosgarea had attended the Olympic trials this month in Omaha, Neb., to watch Drew compete.
"It was Alec's goal to compete at the Olympic trials in 2015," she said.
There was another side to Mr. Cosgarea, who was described as a brilliant math and art student and who probably would have studied business in college.
"He had a very creative side to him that was very unique, and when he put his mind to something, he gave 300 percent," said his mother.
As a middle school art student, he started making wallets out of duct tape, including a "hot pink duct tape jacket" that he wore to a friend's bar mitzvah, according to a McDonogh School profile.
Mr. Cosgarea, a member of McDonogh's Entrepreneurial Club, saw the business potential in his duct tape creations.
He established Duct Tape Outfitters LLC, which sells wallets, flowers, belts, ties, hats, purses, and Kindle cases, all made of duct tape. He donated 5 percent of his company's profits to Swim Across America, which raises money for cancer research.
"Alec was a wonderful member of the McDonogh School family," headmaster Charles Britton said in a statement. "Each day he came to school with a smile that instantly spread to everyone he met. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to know him as a student, an athlete, and a friend to his peers."
"He was just a great young man," said Mr. Ward.
Mr. Cosgarea was a communicant of the Roman Catholic Community of St. Francis Xavier in Hunt Valley.
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St.
In addition to his parents and brothers, Mr. Cosgarea is survived by his paternal grandparents, Andrew and Rosemary Cosgarea of Falls Church, Va.; and his maternal grandmother, Irene Sullivan of Cleveland.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun