Oklahoma Baptist University

Hundreds Gather to Remember Swim Champion

OBU student and IvŠnís younger brother, Mateo, shares memories of his brother at the memorial service.

More than 700 members of the OBU community gathered Monday night, March 12, to remember the life of Iván Maciuniak, an OBU freshman who helped lead his team to a national swim championship the week before his death.

Maciuniak died Friday, March 9, in an accident in the campus swimming pool.

Maciuniak’s “quiet but intelligent” nature was highlighted by those who shared stories of their friend and teammate in Raley Chapel’s Potter Auditorium. A commemorative video featured pictures of Maciuniak competing at the 2012 NAIA Swimming and Diving Championship on March 3 in Oklahoma City.

“He was not only my brother, not only my best friend; he was my example,” said Mateo Maciuniak, Iván’s 18-year-old brother and Bison teammate.

A 22-year-old from Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain, Iván Maciuniak had joined Mateo at OBU in January 2012, at the start of the spring semester. They were two of six brothers who shared a special bond. Mateo told of desiring to follow in his brother’s footsteps to the Spanish national championships, which Iván ensured him he could achieve with enough hard training. It was a moment of pride for both Mateo and Iván when the younger brother finally swam faster than his mentor.

The brothers played a key role in helping OBU win the NAIA Swimming and Diving Championship. The Maciuniaks were on the four-man 400-meter relay team which won the final event of the meet to claim the national championship in OBU’s first year of intercollegiate swimming.

“Iván was an incredible teammate,” said A.J. Barbar, a Bison swimmer from Boca Raton, Fla., who noted Maciuniak consistently practiced “with everything he had.”

“He was a brother to the swim team. He had the heart of a champion in the pool.”

Dr. Sam Freas, head varsity swimming and diving coach, said the service was an opportunity to celebrate the champion Maciuniak proved to be both within the pool and outside competition. He thanked the OBU community for its support of the close-knit swimmers and divers.

“There’s a reason why the swim team is tight,” Freas said. “We prayed mightily for the Lord to empower us at nationals, and he did. It is wonderful to know that when you have a Christ-centered team that great things can happen.”

The service continued the outpouring of support the campus community has expressed since the accident. Approximately 200 members of the OBU community gathered for a time of prayer at 10 p.m. Friday, March 9. Mateo Maciuniak participated in the gathering and stood to thank the students for their demonstration of care and support. Following the gathering, approximately 300 OBU students met in front of Raley Chapel for an hour-long prayer walk for the Maciuniak family and Iván’s colleagues on the swimming team.

The incident happened late in the afternoon at the 25-meter pool in OBU’s Recreation and Wellness Center. OBU President David Whitlock notified the campus community of Maciuniak’s death through an email message on Friday evening.

“According to those at the pool, Iván was swimming when he went under water,” Dr. Whitlock said. “He was pulled from the pool, CPR was administered, and paramedics arrived to continue CPR and transport him to Unity Hospital North. He was pronounced dead at the hospital shortly after 5:15 p.m.

A medical examiner’s report is expected to provide more information on the cause of death.

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