Stanly County Special Olympics Swim Team
Joel Laster has been a member of Monarch’s Board of Directors since Sept. 2013. He is a certified lifeguard, USA Swim Coach and a U.S. Master swimmer. Laster has been coaching the Special Olympics swim team in Stanly County since February and six of the people Monarch supports are on the team. He wrote about their experience at the regional competition in April and the hard work the athletes have put in this year.
The Stanly County Special Olympics Swim team has been training since February at the YMCA, and in April they finally got to show off their hard work at the Greensboro Aquatic Center for the regional Special Olympics competition.
Diane Billings and I were head coaches for the team this season and we were assisted by Nai Scales, and five local high school youth who volunteered their time as unified athletes.
Being a unified athlete provides an inclusive sports program where there is an equal number of special athletes with intellectual disabilities and partners without intellectual disabilities on teams for training and competition.
Special Olympics Unified Sports promotes social inclusion through shared sport training and competition experiences for individuals with and without intellectual disabilities.
On April 26, 11 of the athletes, six unified partners, coaches and workers headed to the Greensboro Aquatics Center for a regional competition, with five of the 11 athletes being Monarch’s very own. They included: James Matthis, Lindsey Colavito, Bevin Wilcott, Elliot Schmel and Beth Townsend.
The athletes and their partners did an exceptional job in the pool and several took first place, while all took their best times. It is also worth noting that all athletes who attended qualified for the State Games on May 30 – June 1. There was not one disqualification in the group!
In spite of a long day, the athletes and their partners did a great job. The venue itself-one used by U.S. Olympic swimmers in the past-provided extra incentive to swim well.
It is also with special thanks that recognition goes to the event volunteers. There was a lot of walking to and from each event and it could not have been done without such dedicated help from our athlete volunteers.