High school swimmers help SO Davie

Published 12:15 pm Thursday, June 9, 2016

What do you do when your back-up plan to your back-up plan to your back up plan fails?

This is the situation that Katie Brewer, director of Special Olympics Davie County (SODC), found herself in when all four of her swim coaches were unavailable to take the program’s swimmers to the Special Olympics North Carolina  (SONC) competition on June 3.

And, there was a second complication.

Event restructuring at SONC meant that alternate competition opportunities, such as qualifiers, were temporarily unavailable.

Brewer did not have to look far.

Over the past four years, Davie County High School (DHS) students have been participating in unified sporting with athletes who have intellectual disabilities across Davie County.  Working with the Davie Family YMCA, outgoing DHS swim coach David Koontz and eight DHS swimmers, a perfect collaboration was born and a solution to Brewer’s dilemma: a local unified competition.

Koontz and the high school swimmers arrived for a preliminary practice on May 20 to pair the DHS swimmers with the SODC athletes for relay races.

“From beginning to end, the ease between the SODC athletes and DHS swimmers was incredible to observe,” Brewer said. “The DHS swimmers treated our athletes as equals and supported them in reaching the finish line – no matter what it took. It was unified sporting at its best.”

On May 27, the eight DHS swimmers and eight SODC athletes took to the pool for a year-end relay competition. Each four-person team was made of two DHS swimmers and two SODC athletes.

Just like any traditional competition, spectators were on the edge of their seats, eagerly awaiting the outcome. Special Olympic athletes also competed in other individuals events as well, such as the Swim Walk and 25 M Backstroke.

More help followed. Davie Civitans, led by Brent Shoaf, also supported the event by organizing the award ceremony and refreshments.

“We have a lot of gratitude for Coach Koontz, the DHS swimmers, the Davie Civitans and YMCA for jumping right in during a time of need,” Brewer said. “I am hopeful we have started a new tradition. The community is truly the best in rallying around the needs of our special athletes.”