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Last modified: 29 Jul 2020 10:17am

Special Olympics

It’s a Wednesday evening (before the lockdown). Rochelle, Jacob and Amber and other athletes with intellectual disabilities head to the Selwyn Aquatic Centre in Rolleston for their weekly swim lesson.

You can see the excitement and anticipation on the athletes’  faces as they plunge into the water with swim coach Sue who begins the class.

Special Olympics Canterbury reserves two lanes for the athletes with money from the Selwyn Community Fund. The Council fund supports groups and organisations that contribute to community wellbeing. It is available for Selwyn-based not-for-profit community groups looking to run a project, event, or initiative in the district. Applications for round two of funding from the Community Fund this year have been extended by one month and now close on 31 May and you can apply now on our community fund page.

Swimming instructor Jessica Waters explains advanced swimmers are in the furthest lane, while the middle lane is for those learning to swim fast and the side lane is for recreational swimmers.

In the third lane Amber is showing off her improved breathing technique and freestyle, while Rochelle is training in the second lane for another gold medal at the next Special Olympics’ competition. Jacob, who is in the side lane, enjoys swimming with his head above the water.

For these athletes, aged 18 to 50, being a part of Special Olympics gives them something to look forward to.  Jeff Waters, Rochelle’s father and chairperson of Special Olympics Canterbury says any money the Special Olympics Group receives goes a long way, but there is more to it than money. “For us the money is great because it takes some pressure off the athletes and volunteers to raise funds. The majority of our athletes aren’t able to fundraise for themselves and struggle to pay for anything other than the basics.”

Fundraising for training sessions and national competitions is left to a limited group of volunteers. Mr Waters says the Council funding shows they value Special Olympics’ athletes and volunteers living in Selwyn. “It just shows that someone else cares. It’s good to feel that you’re not on your own sometimes.”