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Teammate's loss mourned
Tracy Bull, head coach of the Ceres Dolphins recreational swim club, relayed the shocking news to his athletes at the MVSL championships on July 24 in Turlock.

Connor Saavedra, a first-year competitor, passed away unexpectedly two days earlier while vacationing in Oklahoma. He was just seven years old. Saavedra would have entered the third grade at Keyes to Learning Charter School later this month.

"I found out on Thursday," Bull said. "It's tragic. To be taken away at such a young age is devastating. It hit everybody hard. We had him on our minds all day."

Dolphin swimmers penned "RIP" and "See you in heaven" sympathy messages on their bodies at the MVSL competition.

Loved by all of his teammates and coaches, Connor will be remembered for his positive attitude and determination.

Saavedra left a lasting impression despite competing with the Dolphins for just three weeks.

"He loved swimming," Tracy said. "He loved being on the team. He was a very happy-go-lucky kid. He never stopped smiling. That's why I nicknamed him Smiley."

Connor is survived by his parents, Jason and Tabatha, and sister, Megan.

The Dolphins have set up a bank account at Valley First Credit Union (P.O. Box 1411 Modesto, CA 95353-1411) to assist Saavedra's family.

Please make checks payable to: "For the Benefit of Connor Saavedra."

Donors may also drop by any local branch and donate in his name.

The Ceres, Oakdale and Ripon recreational swim clubs have already raised $1,500.

"The goal is $5,000," Bull said.