May 30, 2012
For the second-consecutive year members of the Ohio State men's and women's swimming teams hosted a 12-hour relay race known as "Water to Water." The event, which took place May 24 at McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion, was organized to raise funds and awareness for Thirst Relief International, a non-profit out of Lewis Center, Ohio, whose goal is to provide clean, safe drinking water where it is needed most around the world.
Developed, planned and organized solely by the student-athletes, the tradition of "Water to Water" was carried on after being introduced by former men's team captain Ben Savonen during his senior year in 2011.
Savonen began "Water to Water" after learning of the dilemma plaguing some countries to provide fresh water to all citizens. In particular, he was touched by the fact that 1.1 billion people lack access to clean drinking water and that every 15 seconds someone dies of a waterborne illness.
A year later his awareness continues to inspire members of the Ohio State swimming programs, including four-year letterman of the men's team Steven Springer.
"At Ohio State we have one of the best facilities in the country," Springer said. "But there are people out there that don't have clean water to bathe in. Being able to give back and make a difference in someone's life is a great feeling. Ben Savonen started the project last year and being able to continue the event was pretty fun."
Springer, along with sophomore women's team member Sarah Griffith, played a key role in bringing "Water to Water" back to McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion. Together they organized the event's schedule and found sponsors from a variety of local businesses to support the cause.
A recent recipient of the Skilken Award for his spirit of giving at the team's annual awards banquet, Springer hopes "Water to Water" will continue to grow and develop in the future.
"This is the second year we have done it, so I would hope that the team continues this for awhile," Springer said. "Hopefully in the future they will get more involved with other teams on campus and make it a big event every year for Ohio State."
Ohio State men's head coach Bill Wadley mirrored Springer's comments regarding the importance of continuing the event.
"Our goal for the future is to take it to the next level and get the Ohio State community more involved," Wadley said. "It's just a great event and tribute to the cause."
Along with raising funds for Thirst Relief International, "Water to Water" provides a unique look into the character of the members of both swimming programs. Throughout the day participants took shifts of 30 minutes in the water; an effort to ensure someone was continuously swimming laps on behalf of the cause for 12-consecutive hours.
"I think what it does is show the human qualities - the thoughtful and caring attitudes - of those involved," Wadley said. "It's something extra beyond athletics and academics. To do something for others that really doesn't directly affect them says a lot about our men and women. It's pretty unique to see that today because so often people are more into themselves than caring about others."
The total amount raised was not immediately available because donations are still being accepted and can be made online here.