Who Was That Naked Swimmer Anyway?

by on February 12, 2010 · 48 comments

in Culture, Media, Ocean Beach, Popular


Who is The Naked Swimmer?

On January 30th, a community at the brink found cause to boil over in protest to the increasing population of street kids. On this day in Ocean Beach, a very intoxicated man swam naked near the pier. He resisted arrest next to the seawall on Newport and Abbott, which is just about as public of a spot as OB offers.

However, the intoxicated man, who I have referred to as The Swimmer in a previous post, was not a street kid.

Stephen Morse is a clean-shaven, 6 foot 200 pound college student. The 19-year-old has a role in the student government at San Diego State.  He  is a recent transplant from the state of Washington, where he went to high school, and was on the local school football team.

Morse was charged with resisting arrest (penal code 148) and public intoxication (HS 11550). He was bailed out of jail straight away, and is awaiting his court date.

He fared better than the other two men who were arrested that day. 39-year-old Yorik Hancock, a homeless man and parolee, was arrested for battery (Penal Code 245a1). He was throwing bottles, and one tube of deodorant, at the cops, supposedly in defense of Morse, who he did not know. Since Hancock was on parole, he was immediately put in jail.

Jeffrey Nason, 23, was also arrested. Nason’s story was written about in detail in a previous post. He spent five days in jail, and then all charges were dropped against him. Like Morse, he was also taken in for a Penal Code 148 violation, which is resisting arrest and interfering with police activity.

Neither Nason nor Hancock had anyone to bail them out of jail. Their actions to defend Morse against what they saw as unfair treatment were questionable – throwing a stick of deodorant at a policeman is probably never a good idea. Their motives, however, were sound.

Unlike Morse, whose motives, other than possibly wanting a tan where he didn’t have one, are unclear. According to witnesses and police, Morse was highly intoxicated, laughing and smiling as he resisted police efforts to clothe him. Morse ended up being tased and put in the back of a police car.

Photo by Jim Grant

Photo by Jim Grant

What was a funny and embarrassing debacle for Morse is now a damaging situation for the street kids of Ocean Beach. Most of them are traveling, staying in San Diego during the winter, and returning north in the summer. Morse’s very public arrest has put them in a bad place, as the seawall is now highly patrolled and business owners on Newport have pegged the members of this diverse group as scapegoats for property destruction and impropriety.

Jay, a street kid in Ocean Beach, puts it succinctly:

“The people that are the most vulnerable – homeless people, minorities – get the brunt of the system, always.”

Even when the actual offender is on the student government.


The Reader Plugs OB Rag on Original Naked Swimmer Article

Moss Gropen, a stringer for the Reader, went to great lengths the other day to give our blog lots of props on Nate Hipple’s post.  Thanks Moss.  Here’s the beginning of his article:

“How Many Cops Does It Take to Get a Naked Man Out of the Water?”

That’s the reaction of a poster on the OB Rag website, who added, “I bet Southeast San Diego wishes they could get this much manpower when there is a shooting in their neighborhood.” Indeed — how many cops does it take to “secure” the beach from a skinny-dipper? That was one of the questions posed by the OB Rag’s coverage of a recent Taser take-down by the San Diego Police Department. On January 30, the online Rag headline read, “Breaking news on Newport, naked man nearly incites riot.” Putting aside the awkward grammar, one might also ask: Was it the nude dude — or the men in blue (black, actually) — who did the inciting? As with any incident involving the use of force by the police, it depends on who you ask.

According to the Rag, the man waded into the water …

for the remainder of the article, go here.

{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Abby February 12, 2010 at 10:37 am

Somebody give this kid directions to PB!


doug porter February 12, 2010 at 10:59 am

oh wait!
wasn’t this guy supposed to be one of the unwashed homeless masses that are taking over OB even as we’re reading this?
never mind.


Dallas February 12, 2010 at 11:23 am

Naked kid in water. Over a dozen squad cars race down Newport and Cable to greet said naked kid. Inebriated, he resists arrest (but really how much can a wet, naked, 21 year old resist to this obvious force of power). Homeless guy (not street kid), protests the use of tazers on said kid (who was wet mind you – not cool). Both go to jail for a bit. Naked kid walks to attend class at SDSU. Homeless guy violates parole.

Just another day in OB… Gotta love it!


liveinOB February 12, 2010 at 12:31 pm

I hope that SDSU takes note of this person’s actions and punish him for what he caused!


lane tobias February 12, 2010 at 2:51 pm



liveinOB February 14, 2010 at 4:51 pm

explain ^bump, please


lane tobias February 14, 2010 at 6:05 pm

its an online message board way of saying “i approve of that comment above”.


Abby February 15, 2010 at 7:55 am

Since when?

The point of “bumping” a thread was to raise thread’s profile by returning it to the top of the list of active threads OR an abbreviation for “Bring up my post”

In this case it does nothing as posts here don’t “fall off” the main page they way the do on message boards.


lane tobias February 15, 2010 at 10:13 am

i guess i had a different impression.


lane tobias February 15, 2010 at 10:18 am

wait sorry abby – i was responding to somethign else and wrote in the wrong place. the truth is, ive used ^ bump as a way to get people to read someone else’s comment, effectively pushing it up to the front of a message board. for example, on message boards for phish heads or dead heads, it is used in this way because the thread then goes to to the top of the list. in this case, I was saying ” I like what you’re saying” and so when that ends up on the sidebar of recent comments, it effectively does raise the profile since people see it as a recent comment and may click on it to see whats going on.

but I have however heard from more than a few people that its just a way of saying “I agree with you, lets see if other people do too”

so yeah, you are rigth


liveinOB February 15, 2010 at 10:30 am

thanks Lane for the definition of ^bump, didn’t mean for it to get all technical :)


Abby February 15, 2010 at 10:51 am

As are you! :-)


Pat February 12, 2010 at 2:05 pm

I knew Yourik Handcock when he was a boy, roughly from the time he was 6 to 9 or 10 years of age. His mother worked for us for several years, in fact I think Yourick used to sweep our shop for a little pocket change.
He spent this time living in OB with his mother.
I heard many years later he had gone to prison.
About a year ago he and his mother stopped by to say hello.
I wasn’t around at that peticular time and missed them.
A week or so later he stopped by and I had a chance to talk to him.
The conversation was brief so I didn’t find out what had been happening in his life after all those years . I noticed he stayed in OB hanging out appearing to be homeless .
I would run into him from time to time and he always greeted me with a smile and a hello. Although seeming (to me) to lack direction he seemed like a decent human being. I realized he had a bit of a rough time growing up and that’s why he found himself in some of the situations he was in. I think sometimes we are to quick to judge people by there outward appearance and what they do or don’t do. Not by the content of their character. I know throwing things at the police is not a good idea, but I also know how our emotions can get the best of us when we see something we feel is not right.


Sara June 11, 2012 at 9:24 am

Yorik is my brother, granted I only met him a handful of times, I think of him often. I haven’t talked to him in almost 9 years…However, the health of our Dad is declining which has reignited my desire to have contact with him again. You are correct, he is a good person. Additionally, he did have a hard time growing up. I think it’s safe to say our Dad was less involved than a father should be. The repercussions of this can be devastating on the short term and long term development of a person. If you know anything at all I would love to hear from you! sprinklesara@gmail.com Thank you!!! Hope to hear from you soon!!


justmy2cents February 12, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Good book , bad cover. I have known a lot of kids like that ,with time you just hope they polish tht cover a little it goes a long way in life.
You can be the best contractor in the world but if you drive up in a beat to hell truck, dress like a worn out beatnick and speak the same you will not sign to many projects up.


jettyboy February 12, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Yes, we all know the phrase “clothes make the man” created by yet another apologist for a system that needs someone on the bottom. However a closer look reveals a disturbing truth, often outward appearances cover a shallow and empty vessel. Sarah Palin comes to mind. Does anyone think she would be getting so much attention if not for her looks? It’s certainly not for her mind, or original ideas. Personally I would prefer my contractor to look like a working man in a beat up truck. If he arrived in a shiny new truck, wearing a tie, I would be afraid, very afraid.


justmy2cents February 13, 2010 at 9:11 am

You read between the lines way to much…i just re-read my entry…i guess the place where i said ” shiny truck and tie” was deleted….that damm editor dude.
Yeah a working man in a beat up truck sure blah blah….

Just like many on this site …Blame it on the Man or big box and there must be a conspiracy somewhere holding you down.

head to the jetty for a long walk and get away from your keybored.


jettyboy February 13, 2010 at 10:08 am

I guess if I had any idea of what you are talking about I would reply to those things, but as it is I have no idea what you are are rambling about. A side note. Not every post is a reply directly to you, no matter how important you think you are.


justmy2cents February 13, 2010 at 5:40 pm

dont worry about it boy u dont get it and never will…….


jettyboy February 14, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Believe me, what you have to say is absolutely the last thing I would ever worry about.


david February 13, 2010 at 1:33 am

i agree with jettyboy. the crimes of the rich have far more devastating consequences than the petty infractions of the poor. affluent americans want their poor to be noble and rise above circumstance . and if they fail, just throw the bums in jail. but if your rich and fail, there’s a bonus waiting for you!

“life is absurd, and if your an american you get a front row seat” George Carlin


Chris Moore February 13, 2010 at 10:54 am

This kid got off easy.

If I went skinny-dipping at the pier, they would have thought I was a Wookie and called animal control.

Those darts hurt!


annagrace February 13, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Chris, Thanks for the first belly laugh of the day….


lane tobias February 14, 2010 at 1:13 pm

thats funny.


Biff February 13, 2010 at 11:09 am

Should the homeless decide on use of force policies that the police and lifeguards have? Morses’ refusal to comply forced the hand of the cops. The homeless group under the pier outnumbered and surrounded the small group of cops and lifeguards who were trying to detain Morse. Like the saying goes, “don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.” The cops called for back-up because they felt a very real threat phyically from the homeless group and had to act to keep themselves safe. If Morse would’ve gone peacefully from the start none of this would have happened. Don’t blame the cops on this one. This is all on the aggressive homeless who were sitting there all day drinking.


Patty Jones February 13, 2010 at 2:10 pm

As someone else said here before, just because someone is homeless should they have fewer rights that someone with a roof over their head? Besides, who besides the cops and bureaucrats decide policy?

Had Morses’ refusal to comply been to the order “Drop your weapon!” I could see this kind of response. But for dropping trou? pfft.


Mary February 13, 2010 at 4:52 pm

In response to the statement:

“This is all on the aggressive homeless who were sitting there all day drinking”

For the last time, Stephen Morse is NOT homeless. The instigator of this entire situation is NOT homeless. Hello? Do you hear me?

Stephen Morse, aka The Swimmer, does not represent the homeless population in any way.


jon February 13, 2010 at 4:56 pm

But if he isn’t homeless, why is he making us all angry?


justmy2cents February 13, 2010 at 5:39 pm

mary read biffs statement again this time s-l-o-w…he did not say morse was homeless…..he referred to the homeless group ….


Biff February 14, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Did I ever say that the homeless shouldnt have rights? I just ask that they follow the rules that everyone else has to. I can’t drink, deal, urinate, smoke or litter on the beach so why should they on a daily basis? They get to live to a seperate set of rules? They get to threaten cops without recourse?
Lets let Patty decide on how society operates. Then we would all get together in a drum circle and everything would be peachy. Do what ever you want, ‘man’. Keep OB dirty.


Patty Jones February 15, 2010 at 6:41 am

Why are you ‘man’-ing me “Biff”? You asked “Should the homeless decide on use of force policies that the police and lifeguards have,” and I was responding to that statement, but maybe I wasn’t clear.

There are plenty of people with homes that drink, deal, urinate, smoke, or litter on the beach and most of those go unpunished despite all the rules.

And yeah, if Patty had her way society would be peachy.


Biff February 15, 2010 at 8:28 am

Patty, do you understand that the homeless were threatening police who were trying to detain someone resisting arrest? Is that a right? If they refrained from their ill advised actions THEY WOUDLNT BE IN JAIL. They had no reason to involve themselves. Morse got to go home because of his resources. Nason and Hancock should know better from previous experience what was going to happen. It is not all peace and love. Unless it is okay to throw hard metal objects at each other. It is the fault society in general we have so many homeless on the streets. Not the fault of the cops and people downtown.


OB Joe February 15, 2010 at 10:20 am

Biff – did you even read the post? Or the other article that described how one of the homeless guys was tasered, arrested, and then after spending 5 days in jail had all his charges dropped???

It is every citizen’s right – whether homeless or not – to speak up and loudly too if they witness someone’s rights being abused or if they see police over-reaction. It wasn’t just homeless people reacting to the cops’ over-reaction.

You would have us all be good Germans, and not say a word when we see the abuse by people in authority. Sorry, that’s not how OB is…. learn some local history.


obfuzz February 15, 2010 at 5:10 pm

The homeless guy wasn’t tazered. That’s a lie.


Biff February 15, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Okay, Joe, you go to work and let me and my friends surround you and throw deoderant cans at you. Lets see how fast you call the cops. And good call, I’m a Nazi. So clever.


1984 February 15, 2010 at 9:18 am

sdpd doing a 100 mph down streets that are designated safe only at 25 mph … have fun explaining that to the family of whoever they kill in a motor vehicle accident … “hey there was this naked kid, dont you understand? its important that we threaten the lives of your local community residents to end this scourge of nakedness” honestly I didnt even know that being naked in public was a felony … especially a felony of such great importance that our lives should be put to risk by these foolhardy, amped, gun toting, out of control cops here at southwest … incident after incident after incident .. every year and the local communtiy says “relax” to them and they still do not give a rats ass to listen … even when they kill needlessly, they dont take the time to see where their faults lie. I dont see any improvement from year to year … would anyone like to share where they clearly see improvements being made in their attitudes? 100 mph down susnset cliffs … what a joke our police dept. is and they somehow claim they have our best interest at heart


obfuzz February 15, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Oh no! Cops drive fast and carry guns!?! It’s not the cops job to have “anyone’s best interest at heart.” Your best interest is your problem. The cops are there to maintain order and peace. And when some guy high on dope is attacking lifeguards, and the street kids start throwing stuff and the lifeguards… then order has been lost. And you get a fleet of police cars from all over the city speeding to the rescue. And 100 MPH is not the case. You can’t even do 50 on Sunset Cliffs there are some many dips and pot holes.


Mary February 16, 2010 at 11:49 am

Actually it was only one person throwing stuff, and it was at cops, not lifeguards. He is not a street kid, he is a permanent homeless guy in his 40’s. The street kid that was arrested wasn’t throwing anything, he was just yelling.

I can see how this would be stressful for cops and lifeguards, and I believe they did the best thing they could think to do at the time, but that doesn’t mean it was the best decision.


Dallas February 15, 2010 at 12:11 pm

I’m not in any way defending the actions of a dozen squad cars speeding down highly traveled streets (I was actually walking on Newport grabbing lunch when it all happened). But you gotta take a look at the big picture.

Everybody is fighting for their jobs these days. This includes a public service funded by tax payers dollars. I call this justification of purpose. When I was in the Navy, there would be days that would be slow for work. This is where we’d clean our spaces from top to bottom. We’d wipe down the rafters with soapy cloths. All the way down to stripping a layer of wax and re-waxing the floors (despite the same task being done only a few weeks prior). With a team of 10 and a space the size of a small apartment, this could be done in a few hours. When we were finished our superiors, who were often just sitting in their offices shooting the s**t, would “inspect”. Inevitably, they would find a minuscule speck of dirt or grim in the most unlikely spot. And we would be ordered to redo the job completely. After a few hours later, our superiors would eventually take their departure and leave the responsibility to the most senior person in the room. In which, he would determine our liberty.

If you spent any time in the military, you know this is a rather common occurrence (or like occurrence). Despite the fact that our armed services put their lives on the line or that there are times when one will have to work continuously for days on end, if they let everybody go when things were slow, it would appear that nothing is actually getting done. Military and public servants are usually not paid hourly. They’re salaried earners. So they get paid whether there’s work or not. There are many taxpayers that would be quite upset to know that their tax dollars are paying a days salary for somebody to do nothing. So the cleaning “field day” (as it was called), was more to create work when there was really no work to be done. It justifies the position of the workers and the leaders who are collecting a paycheck at the taxpayers expense.

How does this tie in to the dozen squad cars to take down one inebriated naked swimmer?

Well, the show of power would be to show that “law enforcement” is doing it’s job. In these poor economic times, state budgets are being cut across the board. This means that even police, fire, and protection (lifeguards) forces are under the microscope. Jobs are being cut because the government cannot afford them. That despite the overkill in numbers, it was “necessary” to have that many police personnel on street patrols that day. Sure, some could have continued to go about their slow day. But down the line, when cuts are happening, these incidents are what keeps their jobs.

Justification of purpose. It’s bigger now than ever.

Do I think it was right? Well, even in my Navy days, I didn’t agree with it. I mean so what if we took an official day or two off if it was slow, right? We made up for it on other days when we worked around the clock to keep the ship running in the Persian Gulf. We protected our borders relentlessly for days on end. Nonetheless, at the end of the year. Our manning was determined by what we didn’t do, not what we have done. So putting that into perspective… It’s no wonder that today, when people’s jobs are surely put on the line every day, that they are justifying their purpose.


Nate February 16, 2010 at 3:01 pm

What are they teaching these kids in school!!?? Remember, back in 2008, when 96 people were arrested during the huge drug raid at SDSU? Perhaps beer pong and frat parties pose a greater threat to the well-being of our community than long-hair and jewelry-making. Have you ever seen Animal House?


Nate Hipple February 25, 2010 at 10:44 am

Of course, I’m kidding. Movies are never representative of real life and fraternities have plenty of redeeming qualities, such as volunteering and doing community service projects.


E.T. Morse February 18, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Interesting. College boy was arrested along with the other two trouble-makers and they will ultimately get their day in court.

Let’s see… since the incident its been mighty quiet down at the foot of Newport, along the wall. The surf contest went off without a glitch, most of the trouble makers are gone. The few “transient kids” are behaving (for the most part). The only thing missing is Jimmy Stewart running down the street again in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”, screaming for joy.

All is right in the world!


Biff February 18, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Cool. Now I can be quiet from my armchair.


obme February 19, 2010 at 2:20 pm

hmmmmm……………………….what would happen if a huge majority of the town at the same time ran into the ocean naked?


angel March 1, 2010 at 8:07 am

lets find out….when and where?


The swimmers friend February 27, 2010 at 11:03 pm

This is so stupid. Morse was just having a little fun not hurting anybody. Kids will be kids. It’s a shame that all you old people forgot about what fun is. This whole system is stupid. And about SDSU, It’s the greatest school ever.


Acquaintance to the Swimmer February 28, 2010 at 9:54 pm

I went to high school with this kid and he’s seems to have gotten even crazier…

Oh and to the Swimmer’s friend… it’s illegal to be naked in public, and you can have fun with out breaking the law.


Jerry Smith May 4, 2018 at 1:22 pm

This kid came back to Washington where he claimed to be the reincarnation of Moses and went back to his old high school to make sure everyone was aware of it. He got arrested for trespassing. Now, he is married, a Mormon and a teacher at BYU. Just because people make mistakes when they are young, it doesn’t mean that will carry over into their adult life. Who in the world hasn’t done something stupid or a little crazy before?


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