|Coach CJ with the Holmes Run swim team.|
Joyner, just 29 years old, died May 5 at Inova Fairfax Hospital after suffering a heart attack on April 22.
“We’re shocked. It was so unexpected. He was so full of life,” said his mother, Nancy Joyner. “Clayton’s gift was motivation. He made you believe you could do it. He made you want to succeed.” And that gift led to the development of champion swimmers.
While a student at Falls Church, Joyner was a senior captain on the swim team and led the team to its second straight National District title in 2002, according to a tribute by Brian Flaherty in the Reach for the Wall website. Joyner returned to the school three years ago as head swim coach and was working on developing a championship-caliber team in Virginia’s 5A classification.
During the past season, “Coach CJ” led the boys team for a fourth-place finish at the statewide meet, which Flaherty says “was the school’s highest finish at a state meet in school history.” Falls Church swimmers broke 21 of the 24 school records during his tenure as head coach, including a record of his own in the 400-yard freestyle relay that had stood since 2002.
In 2008, Joyner founded Victory Lane Aquatics Club, which has grown from just 13 swimmers to more than 130. “Clayton used to tell people, ‘Live the dream.’ That was his thing. Dream big and live it,” Nancy Joyner says. “His dream was to start his own swim club to help swimmers achieve their dreams.”
A native of the Camelot community in Annandale, Clayton Joyner swam on the Camelot swim team from age 4 to 18 and made the All-Stars many times.
As co-head coach of the Hurricanes swim team at the Holmes Run Pool, he led the team to 11 divisional relay championships and helped move the team from Division 16 in the Northern Virginia Swimming League to Division 7, Reach for the Wall states.
Saint Philip the Apostle Catholic Church in Falls Church May 17 at 11:30 a.m. After the service, there will be a “Celebration of Life” at the Holmes Run Pool.
Friends and swimmers have shown their support for Coach CJ by wearing T-shirts with the Team Joyner logo and using the logo as their Facebook photos.
In addition to his mother, Joyner leaves behind his sister, Kristin Joyner McLellan, and girlfriend Jana Kuwano.
The Clayton Joyner Spirit Award is being established to award a $1,000 scholarship to an outstanding swimmer at Falls Church.
In lieu of flowers, the Joyner family requests contributions to the Falls Church High School Athletic Boosters, c/o Joyner Scholarship, 7521 Jaguar Trail, Falls Church 22042. Checks should be made payable to Falls Church High School Athletic Boosters.