Saturday, March 23, 2019

Special Olympics Swim Meet

This was the weekend for the regional swim meet for the Illinois Special Olympics.

Kai had been training for this for a year now, ever since his swim partner Connor won gold in the regional meet a year ago and qualified for the state meet.

For most of this past year, Kai did nothing but complain about his training sessions.

“I’m only doing this for you guys” he kept grumbling. Speaking of his coach, he constantly moaned "James is torturing me and it’s all your fault!”

He didn’t seem to care how well he did. “I just want this to be over and then I’ll give up swimming forever,”

But this week, for the first time, his attitude seemed to change

“Dad, look up the rules because I don’t want to get disqualified.” What? He actually cared about that?!

“Dad, show me the qualifying times of the others in the race.” He saw that he had the third fastest qualifying time of the swimmers in his race. He seemed encouraged that he might have a chance for a medal if he swam his best.

The meet would be held at a nearby college and we arrived at 7:30 this morning to check in. The gymnasium was set up as a waiting area for swimmers and their families.

The swimmers had a warmup period in the pool. Here's a photo of Kai doing a warmup lap.

Kai also got some last instructions from his coach.

We then had to wait about a half hour for the opening ceremonies. But after that, Kai would get to swim in the second race of the day - the 100 meter freestyle.

My wife was particularly anxious. From a year ago, she had been hoping that Kai could win the gold. I just wanted Kai to try his best.

And then it was time for him to race. He seemed to be in good spirits; here he is giving us a thumbs up prior to his race.

And here is a video of the race. Kai is swimming in the nearest lane.

It was a thrilling race. Kai and two other boys were neck and neck right from the start and throughout the first lap. At the start of the second (and final) lap, Kai was just a bit behind the other two in third place. As they did the flip turn and headed back for the last length, Kai was in second place, about a body length behind the leader.

With about 10 meters to go, he put on a last spurt and surged past the other boy and won!

In the video, you can hear my wife cheering for Kai throughout the race and screaming when he won at the end. She later said that even though she wasn't the one swimming, she was exhausted.

It was very exciting, especially as it had been such a close race. Kai seemed thrilled that he had won, clenching his fists in triumph.

Here he is after he was presented with the gold medal, alongside his proud mom.

We wanted to reinforce that this was the result of all the hard work he had put in. He even acknowledged, "This was worth it."

Later in the day, he swam in the 200 meter freestyle and won a silver medal. His three teammates each won gold in their events as well so it was a very joyous day. Here is a photo of Kai with two of the other boys and James, their coach.

By winning gold, Kai qualifies for the state meet in June. Let's hope we don't have 10 weeks of complaining until then. :)


  1. Bravo Kai! That was down to the wire. A truly great heat since Kai had to dig deep to find that inner champion. Kai now knows the path to becoming a champion. The same path applies to all endeavors. And yes Kai, it is all worth it. Good for you.

    1. We were especially proud of Kai that he gave it his all right through the entire race and came up with something extra for the finishing kick. Yes, we hope that this shows him what he can achieve with hard work and determination.


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