SAN DIEGO – Summertime in San Diego is the perfect opportunity for kids to take a dip in the ocean or pool. Before jumping into the water though, there is a crucial step that needs to be taken: learning water safety. Unfortunately, learning to swim is an experience that is not accessible to many children throughout the community. The University of California San Diego Athletics Department and the Prevent Drowning Foundation are taking action to change that.
Collaborating with the foundation, the UC San Diego women’s water polo team volunteered to help children in Barrio Logan learn to swim and play water polo, a sport that many of them had never experienced. The student-athletes went to the Barrio Youth Center Swimming Pool of San Diego, promoting water safety in a fun, hands-on way. From the laughter, smiles, and hugs throughout the day, it was evident that the event was a success.
“It was a blast for the players and for the kids down here,” said women’s water polo head coach Brad Kreutzkamp about the experience. “They got to see some things they’d never seen before, as far as swimming with the ball, learning an egg beater, and having fun with the water polo cage.
“They’re smiling like crazy,” Kreutzkamp added. “When I looked over and saw one of my players with one of the little girls floating on her back, and she got up and gave her a big giant hug, that was my favorite part of the day.”
The Tritons helped children of all ages, ensuring that they were learning swimming and water polo skills in a safe manner. Rising senior goalie Tori Rainone was impressed with how quickly the kids picked up on the water polo techniques.
“It was unbelievably fun,” said Rainone. “We were pleasantly surprised by the amount of skill that was displayed here. You never know what you’re going to get with a group of kids that swimming isn’t their sport and they might not swim that often. We set up drills for them and did passing and shooting… They really seemed to be getting the hang of water polo.”
The successful event was the first of more to come thanks to a partnership between UC San Diego Intercollegiate Athletics and the Prevent Drowning Foundation. The collaboration was a no-brainer for the two organizations, particularly considering founder Buc Buchanan’s background as a Triton water polo player.
As a team captain and a First Team All-American, Buchanan excelled in the water. Now, as the founder of the Prevent Drowning Foundation, Buchanan is giving back to the community by providing aquatic safety education for children throughout San Diego.
“It was a home run,” Buchanan said about the event with the Triton women’s water polo team. “These women are fantastic teachers in the way that they engage with the kids; it was special to watch.”
With the success of the first event, Buchanan is excited about future collaborations with UC San Diego.
“The whole idea of the Prevent Drowning Foundation is to spread the word throughout the community, and UC San Diego is a huge partner in that,” Buchanan said. “It’ll be so good for the community. These kids get role models and have a great time playing water polo, many of them for the first time.
“Prevent Drowning Foundation of San Diego is really proud to be partnering with UC San Diego Intercollegiate Athletics because together we’re going to make the community safer and reduce drownings,” Buchanan stated. “This is the perfect partnership, so I’m looking forward to the future.”
To learn more about the Prevent Drowning Foundation, visit their website here.
Watch video of UCSD’s day with the Barrio Logan youth here.