The Sacramento Police Department beat out six groups of Grant High School students in a friendly swim relay race on Oct. 23 at the school’s new pool.
Officers who patrol the Del Paso Heights area near the school split up into five teams to take on the Grant High School Junior ROTC, student government, swim team and other student organizations, with the police taking the top spot and the Grant swim team taking second and third place.
Officers swam in full uniform and bare feet (save one officer, who wore socks), while students wore swimsuits.
Sacramento Police Sgt. Vance Chandler got the idea to challenge the school when he heard about the school’s new pool and didn’t want to pass up on a chance to build a sense of community with the students.
“We’re willing to do something fun with them,” Chandler said. “I want them to have positive contacts with us. A lot of times those contacts with the police are negative and this was just a great opportunity for us to have some very positive contacts with them.”
Grant swim coach Angie Lopez agreed with Chandler, saying that she felt it was important for high school students to get rid of some of the intimidation that they may feel when interacting with their local police.
“I think the significance is showing the kids that Sac PD is just like them,” Lopez said. “They can swim, not swim, whatever, but just letting them connect in a positive way.”
Grant swimmer Leslie Carrillo, 16, said that she was honored that the officers came to swim against them, but that she was nervous before she realized that she had a major advantage over her competitors.
“It was nerve-wracking,” Carrillo said. “I really thought I was going to lose to all the police officers, but then I realized it’s heavy swimming with a uniform on so I was like, ‘We got this.’”
Carrillo’s group came in third place — ahead of four of the five police teams. Carrillo said that it was “mindblowing” that the police wanted to challenge them.
Chandler said that this meet was a way to break the ice so that Sacramento Police can come and visit students on a regular basis, and plans for officers to hang out at Grant swim practice sometimes in the future to continue to grow the department’s relationship with the community.