A 63-year-old longtime swimming and water polo coach from California was killed in a tragic kite surfing accident on Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands over the holidays.
As reported by the Stockton Record, Tom Downer, the proprietor of Bear Creek Aquatics and longtime coach of the Bear Creek High School swimming and water polo programs, was swept by the wind into a building at Colliers Public Beach in East End Village on Grand Cayman.
Downer was known as a champion of local swimming, at both the scholastic and youth level. According to the Record, Downer was instrumental in keeping the Stockton summer swim program solvent when it lost funding in 2011. As a high school coach, he led the Bear Creek boys water polo team to two straight San Joaquin Athletic Association titles without a regular season loss.
“The biggest thing about Tom was his outlook on life,” Mike Heberle, the girls water polo coach at Bear Creek High School, told the Record. “He was just one of those people that was able to be in the moment but could also plan. … He was as a very active person, who just shared his passion with everybody else.”