Champion swimmer Kennon Heard to be inducted into Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame |

Champion swimmer Kennon Heard to be inducted into Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame

In Kennon Heard’s senior season he won the California Athletic League Championship and the Sac-Joaquin Section Championship in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle events. He was also named a High School All-American, was the1984 Sac-Joaquin Section Outstanding Swimmer and won the Albert Ali Award.
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Editor’s note: This is the sixth installment of a 17-part series chronicling the 2018 Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame inductees. Check back to The Union sports pages each day for a new profile on a Nevada Union legend.

When Kennon Heard looks back on his time as a member of the Nevada Union swim team he remembers snowball fights before morning practices, sharing a good laugh with his teammates and being a part of a talented group of swimmers that held their own against the bigger teams from Sacramento.

The 1984 Nevada Union graduate also acknowledges that swimming for the Miners is where he learned many of the life skills that would help propel him through life.

“I think a lot of it was about discipline, planning and recognizing to a large extent that you get out what you put in and swimming is a pretty linear relationship — the harder you work, the more you accomplish,” said Heard, who is set to be inducted into the Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame April 28. “I think that as I’ve gone through life, that’s still true. When you work hard you don’t always get what you want, which is always a part of athletics, but the harder you work the more likely you’re going to get it and the better you’ll be next time you try for something else.”

In addition to life lessons and lasting memories and friendships, Heard’s time in the pool at NU also resulted in a plethora of accolades and achievements.

In Heard’s senior year he won the California Athletic League Championship and the Sac-Joaquin Section Championship in both the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle events. Heard is one of only two Miners to win the Sac-Joaquin Section 50 freestyle event, and the only NU swimmer to win the section title in the 100 freestyle event. He was named a High School All-American in 1984, was also named the Sac-Joaquin Section Outstanding Swimmer and won the Albert Ali Award that year.

Heard was a four-year letter winner in swimming, helping the Miners win their league championship each of the four years he was on the team. He also lettered in water polo.

“It was a great time,” Heard said of his days at Nevada Union. “It was, and it is, just a fantastic environment, a beautiful setting and we always felt supported.”

Heard’s skill in the pool landed him a scholarship to attend and continue swimming at Cal State Bakersfield, where he was a member of the school’s very first swim team.

At the college level Heard continued to find great success, winning the NCAA Division II National Championship in the 50 freestyle in 1985 and helping the team win overall National Championships in 1986, 1987 and 1988. He was an All-American all four years he was on the team, captained the team his senior year and was an Academic All-American in 1988.

“It was another great opportunity where I made some amazing friends as well,” Heard said.

After his time at Cal State Bakersfield, Heard went to medical school at the University of California, San Diego and earned his medical degree. He then studied emergency medicine and toxicology, eventually and earning his PhD from the University of Colorado in 2013.

Heard remains in Colorado where he is a professor of Emergency Medicine and the Chief of Toxicology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He has had many articles published in Clinical Toxicology, a peer-reviewed medical journal of clinical toxicology, and is a noted speaker at emergency medicine conferences.

Heard is happily married to his wife Debbie, and is the father of three children, Kennon, 17, Samantha, 3, and Alex, 1.

Heard added that he is excited to be inducted into The Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame, and expressed gratitude for his parents, Jim and Bobbie, as well as the many coaches that mentored him along the way.

“The biggest thing, and it’s really been impressed upon me, the importance of athletics in our lives. It really does open a lot of doors and teaches a lot of important skills,” said Heard, who still swims once a week. “I’m really thankful that I got that opportunity and got started at NU. Swimming is what launched my life as it is today, with all the things I’ve been able to do and the things I hopefully will be able to continue to do.”

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email

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