Swimmers something special

A record number of more than 100 Special Olympic competitors, from seven schools in the lower South Island, turned out to show off their swimming skills at Splash Palace in Invercargill on Thursday, 17th November.

Special Olympic New Zealand lower South Island region sports coordinator Michelle Greenwood said it was a 40 percent increase in attendance from last year.

The event encouraged students with disabilities to participate and have fun, Greenwood said.

Students with intellectual disability such as Autism, Down Syndrome or Asperger Syndrome, and physical disabilities such as hearing or sight impairment or those who are wheelchair bound, took part. Freestyle, backstroke, kickboard and relays were just a few of the 58 events that took place.

Ruru Specialist School deputy principal Hera Fisher said the event was a highlight on their calendar.

“It’s wonderful event for students to work towards confidence, independence and having fun. It’s an opportunity to shine and for the schools to come together as a community.”

Waihopai Park Unit teacher Catherine Kevern said some students with disabilities get disheartened competing in school events. “It’s good for them to have a bit of competition . . .  It’s fair for them to compete against others with disabilities.”

Special Olympics Southland sports co-ordinator Yvonette Fox said 14 Southland athletes will compete in athletics and swimming at the Special Olympics New Zealand Trans-Tasman Tournament in Hamilton between November 25 and 27.  Then, 40 athletes and 13 coaches head to the Otago Regional Games to between December 2 and 24 in Dunedin.