Tony Golin planned on playing water polo with Dexter High School’s varsity team the fall, spending the rest of the year with the Wolverine Water Polo club in southeast Michigan before moving to California to follow his dreams. He’s one of the best players the U.S., and after being named to the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association’s 2019-20 boys water polo all-America first team, there wasn’t anything in his way.
“I was in the water five or six hours a day,” Golin told MLive.
Then, global pandemic changed his plans.
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has sidelined the water polo season, but Golin isn’t salty.
“I still want to do something that involves water because I love it,” he says.
Golin has been spending his summer cleaning up the Huron River, diving for bottles and collecting other pieces of litter that pollute this critical watershed. He’s out there multiple times a week, filling up garbage bags with litter and keeping the Huron clean.
“The water gets murky in some areas and I feel like the trash doesn’t help that,” Golin said. “I like trying to pick up the trash to make the river clearer and cleaner overall.”
Golin typically takes to the river tethered to an inflatable raft he uses to carry the garbage bags as he collects trash. As Mlive reports, he also wears a snorkel mask to see underwater and tennis shoes to protect his feet from anything sharp.
He dives down to the riverbed, treads water, and floats along the river between Portage Lake to Delhi Metro Park, sometimes with his parents in tow, in search of other people’s trash.
“In the past years, we go down (to the river) and I always notice anything that shouldn’t be in the river.” Golin said. “Plastic, towels, fishing lures, bottles, cans (and) basically anything that humans put in. I tried just kicking (them) out just to pick up the river and making it as clean and natural as possible.”
Golin’s excursions are making a difference, too. The young man says he’s picked up at least 2,000 pieces of trash since he started this project.
“If you keep throwing trash (in), then the river won’t be the river that you want it to be in a couple years,” Golin said. “It’s going to change, get polluted and there’s going to be no wildlife anywhere nearby, so help clean it up whenever you can.”
See Golin’s water polo highlights in the video below.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.