The COVID-19 pandemic may have delayed the October start of UCSB’s swimming season, but junior Dan Marella still found a good way to get his feet wet.
The Gaucho co-captain is planning a 10-mile ocean swim on Saturday in support of COVID-19 relief for Cottage Hospital.
Marella concocted the idea with assistant coach Mark Stori.
“Mark and I were joking around and he said, ‘What if you did a 10-mile swim?’” Marella observed. “I laughed it off at first, but after thinking about it for about a week, I came back to him and said, ‘I think I can do it, but I want to do it for a good cause.’”
He eventually identified two funds at Cottage Hospital: one for COVID Home Kits and the other to support hospital employees.
The kits provide essential supplies for those who test positive but don’t need to be admitted to the hospital. They include thermometers, pulse oximeters, and educational materials which mitigate hospital overcrowding and allow health-care workers to focus on more urgent cases.
The second fund will support Cottage Hospital employees from double-income and frontline-worker households requiring help for child care and other unexpected expenses that have arisen during the pandemic.
“We couldn’t be prouder of our rising junior captain,” UCSB coach Matt Macedo said. “We continue to place value on the phrase: ‘Gauchos Give Back’ and Dan is a great example of how one idea can blossom into such a powerful and worthy cause.
“The support from the community has been amazing and we are so proud to see Dan’s idea come together. I encourage anyone who can to get involved and support this meaningful event.”
Marella earned first-team All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation honors as a freshman by finishing third at the league championships in the 400 intermediate medley. He also took fourth in the same event at last February’s MPSF meet. His times in both the 400 IM and the 200 breaststroke rank in UCSB’s all-time top 10.
His longest ocean swim before Saturday was a six-miler, half of which was against the current.
The coronavirus has prevented Marella from returning home to the Bay Area, but he has taken advantage of the situation by training in the ocean as well as at local pools.
“I get to be with my teammates and best friends, and I get to bond with them in a much different way than I ever would have in normal times,” he pointed out.
Donations of any size are welcome. They can be made at www.cottagehealth.org/donate/ and clicking on “Cottage Emergency Response Fund,” while tributing the gift to “Daniel’s Fight Against COVID Swim.”
People are also invited to swim a mile or more with Marella for a contribution of $100 per mile.
UCSB swimming alumni have organized a charter of the Double Dolphin, a boat that will follow Marella for the final two hours of the swim. Thirty spots are available on the 50-person boat to allow for social distancing. Drinks will be served on-board with tickets going for $100.
Those interested in the Double Dolphin trip, or in swimming a portion of the route with Marella, should contact Dawn Schroeder by emailing M4L@cox.net or by calling or texting (805) 453-0917.