Growing up in Newport Beach as a surfer, swimmer, and water polo player, Aaron Peirsol was certainly no stranger to the water. And while swimming pools never bothered him (he owns three Olympic gold medals and two world records), what he saw at some Southern California beaches left him a bit queasy.
“I remember going to Belmont Pool (in Long Beach) for swimming competitions, and it’s one of the nicest pools in the state,” says Peirsol, now 24 and training for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. “But the beach outside was polluted — brown water, garbage — and I thought there was something wrong with that. I thought that someday I might be in a position to make a change.”
On Saturday, Peirsol was in Long Beach as part of the Green Port Festival to accept a check of $10,000 from Toyota, whose “Engines of Change” program supports athletes who are working locally to make positive changes globally.