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UC Santa Barbara water polo player, 19, drowns during practice

UC Santa BarbaraSports

Officials are saying that a 19-year-old UC Santa Barbara water polo player who was found unresponsive at the bottom of a pool during practice died of an accidental drowning.

Nick Johnson, a sophomore at UCSB, was swimming laps at the Santa Barbara High School pool Monday morning when he lost consciousness during the workout, multiple media outlets reported.

The Santa Barbara County coroner’s office told the Santa Barbara Independent the preliminary cause of death was accidental drowning. Santa Barbara police Sgt. Riley Harwood told Noozhawk in Santa Barbara that investigators have not found any signs of foul play in the case.

"Nick was the best kid, hardest working kid, a first-class person and a wonderful student and brother to his teammates,” UCSB Coach Wolf Wigo said in a statementI was lucky enough to be his first coach and, along with everyone in the UCSB family and water polo community, I will miss him greatly."

Johnson graduated in 2012 from Santa Barbara High, where he was also on the water polo team, Noozhawk reported.

A memorial fund has been established in Johnson’s honor to support the aquatics program at UCSB, the athletics department said.

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matt.stevens@latimes.com

Twitter: @MattStevensLAT

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