A crowd of about 100 people gathered at Campus Pool on Sunday as members of the UCSB swim team and students from Devereux Santa Barbara met for the fourth annual Splash Olympics.
UCSB swimmers partnered with students from Devereux Santa Barbara – a nonprofit organization that provides services for people with emotional, developmental and educational disorders – for the yearly event. The Splash Olympics featured relay races, the Splash Event diving competition, free bagels and coffee, and live music from the Don Julio Blanco Band. Approximately 12 Devereux swimmers participated in the meet after training with the UCSB Swim Team for over a month.
Devereux Santa Barbara Director of Recreation and Athletics Stacy Carr said the goal of the meet was to bring the Devereux students and the UCSB swimmers together to form friendships and learn from each other. She said the large crowd at the event helped encourage the Devereux swimmers, especially when some of them required coaxing to jump off the three-meter diving board during the Splash Event.
“It was absolutely a successful event for both the Devereux athletes and the UCSB swimmers,” Carr said. “You could tell by the smiles on their faces that it was a success.”
Kenny Myers, a student at Devereux, said he enjoyed all the events, but was exhausted from a long day at the pool.
“I really liked the relay event,” Myers said. “But I’m really tired from all the swimming.”
Freshman UCSB swimmer Nadia Dwidar said working with the Devereux swimmers was a pleasure.
“It is great to be able to help them conquer their fears in the pool and establish friendships,” Dwidar said. “We’re letting them know we care about them and want them to succeed.”
Athletes from UCSB’s track team and soccer team also attended the event to cheer on the Devereux athletes. Carr said the crowd was bigger this year than in the past, and she said she thinks the extra spectators made the event even better.
“By coming out and supporting the Splash Olympics they showed good team spirit,” Carr said. “We try to teach the athletes that all teams can work together and support each other.”
Jason Newland, a freshman business economics major, attended the swim meet with the track team, and said it was inspiring to see the UCSB swimmers working so closely with the Devereux athletes.
“We came out to support the kids from Devereux,” Newland said. “It’s great to be able to support them and see them have such a positive experience.”
Devereux recently announced that it will be closing its Goleta Valley campus due to a lack of funding from the state, Carr said. She said she hopes the UCSB swimmers and athletes continue to reach out to children in the community, even after the Devereux program closes.
“We hope that the UCSB swim team continues the program, even if Devereux does not continue,” Carr said.