Annual Turkey Swim honors lifeguard, raises money for students

Karen Gordin, a lifeguard and swim instructor at the Hayward Plunge, was killed by a drunken driver on her way to work in 2001. She was 19. The annual Turkey Swim honors Gordin and raises money for student scholarships. 

Swimmers hit the pool Thursday morning for the Turkey Swim at the Hayward Plunge, an annual event that honors a former lifeguard who was hit and killed by a drunken driver while on her way to work on her 19th birthday. 

The swim honors Karen Gordin, who worked as a lifeguard and swim instructor with the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District. Now in its 17th year, the Thanksgiving Day swim event gets swimmers burning calories before heading to their holiday meals. It also raises money for student scholarships. 

Two $2,000 scholarships were awarded Thursday to certified lifeguards who are continuing their education after high school. The money comes from the Greater Hayward Area Recreation and Park District Foundation and through private donations to the scholarship fund. 

Gordin was remembered by those who knew her as dependable, kind, thoughtful and hard-working. Most of all, she was the person who always had a smile on her face, friends said. 

She loved to swim and worked hard at her job as a lifeguard, but also dreamed of one day becoming a television news producer. She interned here at KTVU while working on her education. Scholarship organizers said they award the money to students who “embody the qualities that Karen possessed.”