Arizona Swimming Takes Part in Tread-A-Thon to Honor George Floyd

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Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

The University of Arizona’s swimming and diving team took part in the Social Justice Tread-A-Thon to honor George Floyd on what would’ve been his 47th birthday this week.

As part of the national demonstration, the Wildcats treaded water for 8 minutes and 46 seconds Wednesday, the amount of time that a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee to the neck of Floyd, killing him in May and sparking a summer of international protests against police violence and systemic racism.

That unrest inspired the Social Justice Tread-A-Thon, a campaign raising funds to close the racial drowning disparity in the United States and offer greater equity in swimming opportunities. All funds raised will be donated to the International Water Safety Foundation and Diversity In Aquatics.

The campaign, set to run from September through December, set a goal of $8,460, which it has already exceeded with 76 days remaining.

“This is an opportunity that a lot of people in the African American community don’t get,” Arizona junior Ty Wells told KOLD News. “My dad is an African American man and doesn’t know how to swim very well. I get to come out here to this beautiful pool and swim laps every day, and it’s not really something that I thought was that important until I got in that circle and had time to think about.”

The University of Arizona joined Indiana University and the University of Virginia as collegiate teams to participate in the Tread-A-Thon. The Wildcats aimed to raise $1,000 and have exceed that, at $1,430 as of Friday.

The swimmers hope their participation can bring attention to how systemic racism affects life in the pool.

“It is a problem,” junior Aria Bernal said. “And it is an issue, and accessibility is a huge part of it. The fact that the team is getting more involved in activities like this to advocate for racial injustice and health disparities in the community of color – it’s really important and really important to me and I was glad to be a part of that.”

“I wanted to use this as a time of reflection, a moment of silence for George Floyd in honor of his birthday,” head coach Augie Busch said. Hopefully during that silence there was a lot of reflection. During the summer, we were having a lot of Zoom calls, and when the incident happened, we used an entire Zoom call to ask the team to reflect on what I was calling an awakening of awareness of social justice in the country and what minority people go through on a daily basis that may not be realized by us. I was really proud of our team for everything that they shared that day and it really showed the depth of our character.”

“That’s my team. We’re all about each other. That represents respect, unselfishness, awareness and considerations toward different personalities and backgrounds. That’s who we are. That’s one of my demands, that we open up our minds and understand differences that each other bring and come from.”

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