Sandy Swaney was a young teen when the 1947 water ski national tournament was held on Lake Macatawa, in Holland, Michigan. Chuck Sligh, in charge of the tourney and the announcer asked Sandy if she would pour buckets of water on the jump during the jumping competition. That was the beginning of a wonderfully successful decade of water skiing.
Sandy’s parents, Russel and Marion Swaney, had a summer home on Lake Macawawa and their five children loved every day on and near the lake. Sandy as the middle child and close to home, fit right into the water ski school—teaching and learning. The Macatawa Bay Water Ski Club, ran a ski school put on water ski shows throughout Michigan and became the training spot for water skiing at Macatawa, Metropolitan Beach on Lake St. Clair, Michigan and the Beverly Ski Club on Chesapeake Bay in Mayo, Maryland. She skied in many MBWSC shows throughout Michigan as well as at the Lowell Showboat and Metropolitan Beach. In 1953, Sandy signed a contract with The Tommy Bart Water Ski and Jumping Boat Thrill Show. She toured the Midwest with a troupe of 12 skiers.
Sandy started competing in 1950, in 1951 she became a “winner.” The Nationals were held in Lake Placid, New York where Sand won 4th in jumping and 5th in slalom in Junior Girls. At the North American Water Ski Tournament, held in Toronto, Sandy won the overall girl’s championship by placing 1st in slalom, 2nd in jump and 5th in tricks. The 1952 Nationals were held in Minoqua, Wisconsin. Now in the women’s division, Sandy was 3rd overall by taking 2nd in jumping, 3rd in trick riding and 4th in slalom. In Toronto, Sandy placed 3rd in jump, and 2nd in “2 ski” slalom. In 1953, through skiing with Tommy Bartlett’s Show, she competed in the Nationals held in Long Beach, California taking 3rd overall by placing 3rd in jump and slalom and 6th in tricks. At the World Water Ski Championship, Sandy was one of four girls chosen to represent the USA. Sandy won the world jump title. Competing in the International Water Ski Tournament at Cypress Gardens, Florida, Sandy took 3rd place overall by finishing 2nd in jump, and 4th in slalom and tricks. The 1954 National Championships took place in Laconia, New Hampshire. Sandy came in 4th overall in the Women’s Division taking 3rd in jumping, 4th in slalom and 5th in tricks. In 1955, Sandy taught water skiing and took part in water ski exhibitions with the Mayo, Maryland, Beverly Ski Club on Chesapeake Bay. On August 19, 1955, Sandra Swaney wed Courtney Lecklider, of Grosse Pointe, Michigan, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 1956 saw Mrs. Courtney Lecklider winning the jump title with a leap of 67 feet. The Nationals were in La Porte, Indiana where Sandy also took 4th overall. Sandy also competed in the 1957 Nationals in San Diego, California placing 3rd in jumping.
Sandy was a remarkably strong competitive 3 event skier, who also had a great sense of humor. Appearing with her coach and mentor, Charles R. Sligh Jr., Sandy was on the cover of the first ever edition of “The Water Skier” magazine in 1951. Sandy epitomized the joy of water skiing.
Today, Sandy and Court split time between Macatawa and Vero Beach, sharing time with their daughters and grandchildren. Sandy and her sister, Shirley, have long championed Macatawa as a friendly summer place for families, some of whom are into the 5th generation.