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November 16, 2010 > Plunge into the Turkey Swim

Plunge into the Turkey Swim

By Julie Grabowski

Forget sitting on the couch watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade; how about kicking off the holiday with a few laps in the pool? On Thursday, November 25, the Hayward Plunge hosts the 9th Annual Karen Gordin Turkey Swim, an adult-based lap swim, with food and raffle prizes throughout the morning. "It's a great way to work out so you can eat more!" says Recreation Supervisor Nicole Roa.

Serving as a fundraiser for the Karen M. Gordin Scholarship Fund, attendees are asked to make a minimum $4 donation to the fund which awards two college scholarships each year for students working in aquatics while pursuing their educational goals. Students applying for the scholarship must be enrolled in college, have a 3.0 cumulative GPA, and have current certification and work experience as a lifeguard or swim instructor. Winners are selected by a committee, which includes Karen's parents. The fund also provides funding for low-income families to give their children swimming lessons, and aids those who need to get certification.

Karen Gordin was a lifeguard and swim instructor at the Hayward Plunge who was killed in a car accident on her way to work in November of 2001. A car involved in a police chase jumped the median and hit Karen's vehicle head on. She was 19 years old, celebrating her birthday that very day.

The fund was designed by employees of the Plunge together with Karen's family in the wake of her death, due to the outpouring of affection and financial contributions. According to retired Recreation Coordinator II Robin Toussaint, it was clear that something had to be done, both to get through the grief and honor the girl whom so many loved. "In her short life she touched a lot of people," says Toussaint.

Karen was a full-time student, not only working as a lifeguard, but also as an intern at Channel 2. She worked for the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District (HARD) for four years and revealed herself to be a girl of many fine qualities; kind, responsible, thoughtful, compassionate, dependable, and mature. The educational fund pays tribute to Karen's successful academic record, her character, and her involvement in aquatics, which sparked the Turkey Swim.

Toussaint was the first swimmer to use the pool on Thanksgiving morning, but was then joined by Karen, and one by one other staff members came until there was a group of about 14. At Karen's suggestion the Plunge opened to the public on Thanksgiving, and 70 people came out to swim before their holiday festivities.

Now the Turkey Swim is part of the annual festivities, bringing out 75 to 100 people each year. Together with the Karen M. Gordin Scholarship Fund, the event helps support aquatics in the Bay Area as well as pays loving tribute to one of the Plunge's own.

Operating since 1936, the Hayward Plunge is an affordable, accessible resource for the community offering year-round programs including swim classes, certification classes, water fitness, and summer swim teams. The lap swim program runs seven days a week, 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Public swim is available on Saturdays, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. From just learning kids to ninety year olds perfecting their stroke, amputees to pregnant women, the Plunge is home to a variety of needs and faces.

For those who would like to support the fund but can't attend the swim, checks made out to The Karen M. Gordin Scholarship Fund can be mailed to Bank of the West, 1058 B St., Hayward, CA 94541, or hand delivered to the Hayward Plunge, 24176 Mission Blvd., Hayward, CA 94541.

This Thanksgiving is a great time to start a new tradition and support a worthy cause.

9th Annual Karen Gordin Turkey Swim
Thursday, November 25
8 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Hayward Plunge Indoor Swim Center
24176 Mission Blvd., Hayward
(510) 881-6703

$4 minimum donation

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