Article image

by Author Unknown

December 31, 2008

GIving back to the ocean that gave him so many memories

Growing up in Southern California, Aaron Peirsol spent most of his time in the water. Though he now trains in a chlorinated pool in Austin, Texas, Aaron's finest childhood memories took place in the Pacific Ocean. As a child, Aaron recalled many days when the beach would close due to pollution. As a teenager, Aaron remembered seeing fast food wrappers and other waste on the beach and worrying about getting sick from the obvious pollution. Without knowing exactly how he could help the global issue of water pollution, Aaron filed these "beach closed" days in his memory.

Practically 20 years, two Olympic silver and five Olympic gold medals later, Aaron is using his swimming success and celebrity status to give back to the ocean that gave him so many memories. Aaron now works with Oceana, an organization that fights the issues that the oceans face every day. Oceana is the largest international group focused on ocean habitat protection, over-fishing and pollution. Oceana and Aaron have teamed up to create "Aaron Peirsol's Race for the Oceans," a campaign that connects supporters, "wave-makers," with Aaron, his training and his efforts to contribute to Oceana. "It is changing people's perception of how to make a difference," Aaron says. Aaron Peirsol's Race for the Oceans has grown to more than 2,000 wave-makers and hopes to one day enlist 10,000 wave-makers.

Aaron's sponsors such as Bank of America, Pure Sport and Toyota have also partnered with Aaron to help save the oceans. In Beijing, Bank of America presented Aaron with a $15,000 donation for Race for the Oceans. "We have all joined forces for this cause and I appreciate their support of not only me, but of the oceans I swim for," Aaron said.

Aaron PeirsolSwimming has taken Aaron all over the world; during his travels he often blogs about his travels and the evidence of water pollution and over-fishing that he encounters. Blogging is one way Aaron informs and educates the world about the oceans that he loves and hopes to save. "Some people think that even though they don't live at the beach that their daily activity doesn't affect them. Each of us can change habits in our daily life to positively impact our oceans." Changing out lightbulbs, using canvas bags at the grocery store, understanding the impact of building projects on our natural resources are all examples of environmentally smart habits. Aaron also appears in a PSA for Oceana.

"This is a terrific cause that Oceana and Aaron are promoting," said Rob Butcher, USMS executive director. "USMS is pleased that by sanctioning the event that we can also educate and encourage membership to support Aaron and Oceana in their fight to save the oceans."

"It's the little things we do," Aaron says. "It is education that gets the movement started, but it is action that gets it done."

Aaron Peirsol's inaugural Race for the Oceans event will be held in Fort Myers, Fla., beginning November 8-9, 2008. The weekend-long event will feature opportunities for all and includes a junior open water event, a Masters 1K, a Masters individual 5K and a 5K relay, and a swimming clinic open to all event participants. Aaron Peirsol's Race for the Oceans Open Water Weekend hopes to attract both swimmers and ocean enthusiasts. For more information about this event, visit


  • Open Water
  • Human Interest
  • Events


  • Olympians