Athletics News

S & R Sport Athlete Of The Month - August 2013 - Kyle Voulgaris


Kyle Voulgaris competes for Santa Barbara Water Polo Club

Aug 28, 2013

The winner of the S & R Sport Athlete of the Month for August 2013 is Kyle Voulgaris of the Santa Barbara Water Polo Club. Kyle was nominated by Genai Kerr and along with Kyle's dad they submitted a nomination. To nominate an athlete you think is worthy email media@usawaterpolo.org. For winning, Kyle will receive a $50 gift certificate to SRSport.com.

12 year old Kyle Voulgaris plays for the Santa Barbara Water Polo Club.  He has also attended many water polo camps.  His favorite camps are those run by Genai Kerr (water polo Olympian).  Kyle looks up to Genai (literally and figuratively) as a great role model, mentor, and someone who has reached the top of the water polo pyramid.  It is in large part due to Genai's encouragement and training that Kyle loves the game the way he does.  In addition to water polo, Kyle also enjoys open water swimming.

Three years ago, Kyle saw a post on the USA Water Polo Facebook page about an upcoming race from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco called "Sharkfest."  The post was from Peter Finlayson, a former Stanford water polo player.  Peter, his brother, Sam (also a Stanford water polo player), and their mother, had formed a non-profit group called Team Hydro.  Team Hydro is a group of swimmers that compete in the annual Sharkfest swim from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman's Wharf, to raise funds for hydrocephalus research.  Kyle has this condition, which resulted from a near-fatal cerebral hemorrhage he had when he was 18 months old. 

Hydrocephalus is a condition in which the cerebral fluid coming up from the spinal column to the brain cannot be absorbed through the skull back into the body. The resulting pressure can build up and is fatal, or can cause brain damage. In Kyle's case, the blood from the hemorrhage blocked the pores in his skull, thereby preventing the fluid to move through it normally.  Kyle has a shunt, which alleviates the pressure. Unfortunately, shunt technology has change very little since the 1960's, and they can sometimes fail.  Team Hydro was formed to advance hydrocephalus research and find a new cure for this disease.

Kyle was very excited to join Team Hydro, because he has hydrocephalus and wanted to make a difference.  But he also did it as a personal challenge.  Kyle isn't a competitive swimmer, but a water polo player.  Nevertheless, he wanted to make the 1.6-mile swim from the Alcatraz Island to Fisherman's Wharf. He did his first Sharkfest swim at the age of 10, in around 52 minutes.  The next year, he cut his time to 36 minutes.  This past May he finished in 28 minutes, and placed 48th overall in a field of 900 swimmers. Over the three years, Kyle has raised approximately $15,000 for hydrocephalus research.  He is the only swimmer within the Team Hydro group that actually has the condition, and he is also the youngest.  Kyle was awarded two 1st-place finishes, and a 3rd place this past year, behind an open water swimmer who had flown in with the Canadian national swim team, and the top 12U swimmer in Orange County.

Kyle has competed in several open water swims in Santa Barbara, and one from San Diego to Coronado Island. He loves the water, has no fear, and he's competitive, but his first love is water polo.  His only training comes with his daily polo practice, which makes the open water races more fun.

This summer, during water polo, Kyle was awarded the MVP trophy by his team for their second place finish in the US Club Championships, when he scored six goals in the final game. He also scored a game-high nine goals in a game at the water polo Junior Olympics in Orange County. 

Kyle hopes to continue his water polo career into high school and college.

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