The 11th Annual Aquatic Capital of America (ACOA) Awards Banquet will be from from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16, at the Keesal, Young & Logan law offices, 400 Oceangate #1400. Awards will be presented in seven categories.
Here is a list of awards and 2019 winners:
• Athlete of the Year — Jack Nunn, nominated by John Nunn who wrote in the application, “This year has been the highest and most diversified he has ever been able to achieve in the same year. In 2019 he celebrated the 10-year anniversary of Roworx Fitness Indoor Rowing Gym located in Long Beach. He was a 2019 Ultraman Florida Finisher: 6.2-mile swim + 270-mile bike + 52.4-mile run and was featured in 2019 Triathlete Magazine for using rowing as a major part of cross training for the Ultraman Competition.”
• Coach of the Year — Eric Berg, who has been the head coach of the Wilson Bruins since 2006, winning the Moore League boys’ swimming championship each of those years.
• Organization of the Year — Fairfield YMCA for their swim program partnering with the ACOA and board member Lenny Arkinstall who said while nominating them, “Fairfield Y has been water-proofing Long Beach at-risk youth for several years and it is rewarding to see these young people enjoy our local beaches as a result.”
• Outstanding Achievement of the Year — Sophia Rivera (14) and Jason Davison (15). These Millikan High School teenagers both competed in the World Water Ski Racing Championships in France as members of the USA Water Ski Team. They are the youngest boy and girl to compete. In addition, both have placed the last three years in the Catalina Ski Race.
• Tom Shadden Citizen Award – Aquatic artists Kirsten Anderson and Robert Senske, Jr. According to award-winning plein air artist Anderson’s website, “I enjoy outdoor activity and anything to do with the water. I still swim competitively, and am addicted to outrigger paddling and have paddled and raced to Catalina Island four times.” Robert Senske, Jr.’s website notes he has spent nearly four decades of publishing more original acrylic paintings of the Long Beach waterfront than perhaps any artist who ever called this town home.
• Special Honoree — John Callos (posthumously awarded) Callos, was 86 when he died in October 2019. The obituary from his employer Philipps Industries' website said, "John’s strong presence was matched with great accomplishment. He worked as an advisor to the President of the United States for the original drafting of the NAFTA Agreement. He was actively engaged with the leadership of the Port of Long Beach. He was on the Board of the Aquatics Capital of America and actively working to have the Olympics swimming and diving events held in Long Beach in 2028.”
• Community Service — Blair Carty was awarded for her work with the Long Beach Sailing Foundation’s STEM program that stimulates an interest in science, technology, engineering and math through sailing. Buena Park School District middle school students receive hands-on integrated learning opportunities using sailing as a platform. Nominator Scott Dixson said in an email, “I nominated Blair because she has made a positive impact in our community as a leader, role model and mom. Whether it is in the classroom or on the water, Blair has made an impact on Long Beach’s youth and given others an avenue to get involved and make a difference.”
The link for the registration site is https://acoaannualawards.funraise.org/ and tickets are $75 per person. Ticket sales help fund aquatic programs in the Long Beach community including water safety education, particularly by providing access to swim lessons for Long Beach youth.