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Paddle-Out Honors UCSB Water Polo Player Nick Johnson

Hundreds participate in event at East Beach in Santa Barbara

A large crowd turned out Saturday for a paddle out at East Beach in Santa Barbara to honor the memory of UCSB water polo player Nick Johnson.

A large crowd turned out Saturday for a paddle out at East Beach in Santa Barbara to honor the memory of UCSB water polo player Nick Johnson.  (Ryan Kelly photo)

By Tom Bolton, Noozhawk Executive Editor | @tombol |

Nicholas Johnson

Water was central to Nick Johnson's life, so it was fitting that family and friends took to the sea Saturday to honor his memory.

Dozens of people — family, friends and teammates — joined in a paddle-out from East Beach in Santa Barbara to pay their respects to Johnson, a UCSB water polo who attended Santa Barbara High School.

Johnson died March 24 after being found unresponsive at the bottom of the pool at Santa Barbara High School, where he was practicing alongside the high school swim team.

The Santa Barbara County Coroner's Office has ruled the death an accidental drowning.

Several dozen people on surf boards and kayaks joined the paddle out, while several hundred more people witnessed the event from shore.

Johnson had played on the UCSB water polo team since graduating in 2012 from Santa Barbara High, where he played on the varsity team.

Johnson’s family has worked with Santa Barbara High School to set up a memorial fund where people can donate to the aquatics program in his name.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.




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