Stanford Varsity Men’s Water Polo Joins with Team Hydro for Hydrocephalus Research

SAN FRANCISCO – Members of the Stanford men’s water polo program will join with the Team Hydro Foundation for the 19th Alcatraz Swim for Hydrocephalus Research on August 19th, 2023. The Cardinal will help lead the charge into the icy-cold waters off the notorious Alcatraz Island as part of its rigorous preseason training program leading into the 2023 campaign.

Hydrocephalus is a neurological condition impacting more than one million people in the United States. Sadly, this devastating condition led to the passing of Kate Finlayson – the sister of former Stanford water polo alumni, Peter and Sam Finlayson. There is currently no cure for the condition, with the only treatments requiring brain surgery.

“My brother and I both played water polo at Stanford in the early 2000s, so to see the Stanford water polo family rally around the cause like this really means a lot,” said Peter Finlayson, Co-Founder of Team Hydro. “Our sister Kate loved swimming, but unfortunately her life was cut short by hydrocephalus. To see these young men willing to look beyond themselves and support the cause like this is inspiring!”

Brian Flacks, entering his second season as the Dunlevie Family Director of Men’s Water Polo, couldn’t think of a better way to kick off the year than by challenging the team to accomplish together something long-thought to be impossible, while also making a difference.

“Making an impact in the world is what Stanford is all about. When I learned about Team Hydro and the ground-breaking research they are enabling, I knew that it was something we had to be a part of,” said Flacks. “Our team is hoping to be able to raise at least $15,000 towards the overall goal of $100,000. The entire team is swimming, and the boys couldn’t be any more excited!”

Dr. Samuel Finlayson, MD, PhD, is another Stanford alum and Team Hydro co-founder who helps direct Team Hydro’s peer-reviewed research grant process in conjunction with the Hydrocephalus Association. “At Team Hydro, we take our founding mission to help cure hydrocephalus very seriously,” he says. “This means directing every dollar donated for research into projects designed to uncover novel mechanisms of disease and/or to design and develop new treatments. It also means building up a research community by investing in up-and-coming researchers in the field to help them secure large follow-on grants from public and private organizations.”

To date, this approach has been very successful: Team Hydro has funded a dozen research projects on three continents, which together have already identified several new potential therapies and secured >10x multiplier in follow-up funding from government agencies.

“Seeing this next generation of athletes join the cause is a great reminder both of where we have come from, and all the excitement we have for work yet to come,” Finlayson added.

You can support the Cardinal and the cause by making a tax-deductible donation at:

If you would like to join a future Alcatraz crossing or host an event with your team at a neighborhood pool, please contact Peter Finlayson at