Tuesday, October 23 , 2018, 4:35 pm | Fair 74º

 
 
 
 
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John McManigal Was Huge Supporter of Santa Barbara High Aquatics

The McManigal family has played huge part of the Santa Barbara High aquatics and athletic programs for many years.

John McManigal, the father, was identified this week as one of the victims of the devastating mudslides in Montecito. His son, Connor, survived. He was found about mile from the family's destroyed home and is recovering from injuries in the hospital.

Santa Barbara aquatics coach Mark Walsh saw John McManigal at water polo games almost every year he's coached the Dons. 

“He’s been part of the program for 20 years,” he said of McManigal after Santa Barbara’s girls water polo game against San Marcos on Friday. “He had five kids play here over a 19-year period. They’ve been in the program basically before I got here.

“He’s been a part of the program for a long time, the whole family has. We’re obviously hurting for them; we want the best for Connor for a quick recovery.”

McManigal also was a strong supporter of the Santa Barbara Foresters Baseball Club. He hosted players during the team's summer season.

Walsh said the past week has been tough for the aquatics program. Several swimmers and water polo players live in the Montecito area.

“We cancelled practice on Tuesday. We had kids who couldn’t be here, we have people who had lost families,” he said.

The long-time coach has had to deal with the tragedy of losing two student athletes in accidents: Nick Johnson in 2014 and Connor O’Keefe in 2017.

“Between the deaths we’ve had in our aquatics program the last couple of years, I feel like it’s been a lot,” he said. “I feel like every other year I’m having to pull the team aside and having to talk about a horrible tragedy and someone we’ve lost. 

“Honestly, I’m tired of it. It’s emotionally draining.”

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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