TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -For 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the University of Arizona Swim and Dive team went quiet as they treaded water.
The length of time symbolized the in-custody death of George Floyd, held down with a knee to the neck by Minnesota officers. Wednesday Oct. 14th would have been Floyd’s 47th birthday.
It’s a part of a nationwide tread-a-thon to raise awareness not only for social injustice but safety in the water as well.
″As I was going through I was like dang if I’m feeling a little fatigue in my legs I cant even begin to understand what it was like to have someone’s knee keeping me from breathing," said junior Ty Wells.
The team also wanted to bring attention to into the issue of racial injustice and diversity.
“There’s always been a lack of diversity in the swimming community that I’ve always been really aware of," said junior Aria Bernal.
The team aligned with the Social Justice Tread, an organization that not only advocates for social injustices but focuses in on the drowning disparity in the United States. It’s something Wells and Bernal said affects the community of color.
“This is an opportunity that a lot of people in the African American community don’t get. My dad is an African American man and doesn’t know how to swim very well. I get to come out here to this beautiful pool and swim laps everyday and it’s not really something that I think is that important until I got in that circle and had time to think about," said Wells.
“It is a problem," Bernal agreed. "And it is an issue and accessibility is a huge part of it. The fact that the team is getting more involved in activities like this to advocate for racial injustice and health disparities in the community of color-- it’s really important and really important to me and I was glad to be a part of that.”
Watching his athletes from the deck, head coach August Busch was not only proud of his team, but not surprised at how they responded to the event.
“It’s a culture of respect and unselfishness and consideration towards each other and I like to think in our little bubble here that’s the best we can do to honor that," said Busch.
The hope is to have the conversation continue past today and to get others to take the time to listen.
“We’re doing our part trying to make our voices heard, trying to bring awareness to the issues that are plaguing us right now," said Wells.
The swim and dive team are also raising money for the nonprofit Diversity in Aquatics and International Water Safety.
So far, they’ve raised more than $1300. The goal for the organizations is to get to $8,460.