Special Olympics Jamaica swimmers to participate in open water event for the first time
A dream two years in the making, the Special Olympics Jamaica (SOJ) team will be taking on open waters in just a few days at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles, California, USA.
The open water swim event will be an official sport at the games for the first time this year and already Jamaica is planning on making a big splash.
Under the guidance of SOJ’s Aquatics Director, Gabriel Heron, and assistant coach, the athletes Andrew Bartholomew and Kadian Ingleton are in good shape to medal in the event.
With their eyes on the prize, the team trained three times per week for almost 2 hours with a focus on breathing and swimming in choppy sea water, building stamina and conserving on energy. On Sundays they could be found swimming at the Fort Clarence beach in St. Catherine during the wee hours of the morning.
Coach Heron, is pleased with the athletes’ progress, “They have adjusted well, trained hard and are more prepared mentally and physically- more than they were for Greece.”
“While this is a new event in the Olympics, we have been participating in local meets to ensure the athletes are not overwhelmed during the upcoming games. We have also done some regional meets such as the Butterfield Open Water event in Cayman,” ended Heron.
Meanwhile Ingleton and Bartholomew are both enthused about the games.
Just before boarding their flight to LA, a beaming Ingleton shared that, “I know I will do well because I have been training hard. I’m also looking forward to having a lot of fun!” Her teammate, Bartholomew is also looking to medal, but like a true Special Olympics athlete, was quite humble when asked about his performance, “I’m going to do my best but if I cannot let me be brave in the attempt.”
The current standard distance for SO Open Water Swimming competitions is 1.5 kilometers. During the race, athletes may stand, rest, tread water and touch piers, boats, paddleboards, kayaks, cables, ropes and safety personnel in the water if they are tired, nervous or in need of help or encouragement. Athletes may also use a variety of swimming techniques such as backstroke, breaststroke or sidestroke.
The Special Olympics Jamaica team left the island for the World Summer Games on July 21, 2015. The games will start on July 25 and will end on August 2, 2015.