Bear Creek Swimming and Water Polo Coach Tom Downer Passes Away

Tom Downer, a renowned swimming and water polo coach in the Stockton, CA, area, has passed away. After a kitesurfing accident in late December while on a trip to the Cayman Islands, Downer lost his life.

“He taught all the lifeguards, did all the lifeguard training for virtually every pool in Stockton,” said Herb Vochatzer in a Fox 40 article, who coached with Downer in central California.

“He did CPR, first aid, scuba and he had an after-school program and he coached high school up until last year,” Vochatzer said. “He stepped down just because he had so many things going on.”

A vigil and gathering was held at the Bear Creek pool. Swim coaches, parents, and former athletes of Downer came together to remember him through storytelling and slideshows.

Downer, who was 63 years old at the time of his death, was an active member of the Stockton community. He worked in real estate in the Stockton area, and headed the Bear Creek Aquatics program. He was also the water polo and swim coach at Bear Creek High School. He led the Bear Creek boys’ polo team to two-straight San Joaquin Athletic Association titles and a first-round win in the 2016 Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs. He also played a key role in keeping the Stockton summer swim program alive after it lost city funding in 2011.

Those wishing to donate to support Downer’s family can do so by reaching out to the Bear Creek Athletic Department here.

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About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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