Two former Olympic water polo players presented Sowers Middle School in Huntington Beach with a bronze trophy Thursday after students logged 169,350 miles of heart-pumping activity.
Genai Kerr, a former U.S. men's national water polo team member who participated in the 2004 Olympics, told students it was a "huge achievement" to remain active and earn the national championship in the large-school category of this year's World Fit Walk, a six-week event in which students commit to walking or sports activities and log their participation.
The trophy was provided by the World Fit program, which is dedicated to eradicating childhood obesity and improving children's health and attitudes toward fitness.
It was the first time Sowers Middle School took on the challenge, Principal John Ashby said.
Kerr and Michael Zellmer, a German water polo player who also competed in the 2004 Olympics, visited the school in June in an effort to inspire students to be mindful of their health.
"The goal is for them to keep active and improve their health instead of watching TV and playing computer games," Zellmer said. "We hope as Olympians we can inspire them to commit to an activity instead of just sitting down.
"We also want them to have goals in life and love what they do. I didn't know I wanted to be a water polo Olympian, but every decision of my life led me to where I am now."
As part of Thursday's celebration, an after-school event in collaboration with an education charity featured inflatable bounce houses and shaved ice for students.
Seventh-grader Inaya Zaki, 12, said she liked that the World Fit program encouraged students to play outdoors.
Fellow student Nikka Sanchez, also 12, agreed.
"It's important to experience the outdoors," the seventh-grader said.