A special swim meet was held Nov. 12 at St. F.X.’s Alumni Aquatic Centre, which brought together international community leaders and local Special Olympic athletes.
The event was titled The Art of Living Together and the community leaders were participants from the Coady International Institute’s Diploma in Development Leadership program.
Along with the fun swimming competition, a potluck lunch, featuring Latin American and Caribbean cuisine, followed in a conference room in the Keating Centre.
The event was made possible through the combined efforts of Coady staff, PHAST swim team, Eastern Highlands Special Olympic swimming and St. F.X. education student society, and was the brainchild of education student Zach Flower.
Flower talked about “how it all came together” as folks enjoyed meals and spirited conversation.
“I’m in my second year of education and worked here [the aquatic centre] as a lifeguard over the summer. In the mornings, I saw these Coady swimmers coming in; I was just curious about them so I asked them their names, where they’re from … there is not a lot to do at 6:30 in the morning at the pool,” Flower said with a chuckle.
“What I decided to do, with my skill set as a coach and instructor and, as well, a teacher-in-training, is use what I have to help them become a little more confident in the water. And, more and more of them just started to show up each morning until it, kind of, turned into this thing where I thought, ‘wow, this could be more than just swim instruction, it’s an opportunity for me to get to know some leaders from across the world and also share a skill set I know and something they could take back to their country.’”
Flower said the exchange continued to blossom with each session.
“So, along with volunteers who are all part of the education society – we’re all teachers in training – we dedicated our time to come in, in the mornings, and work with the Coady participants so this swim meet could become a success and it was … it was awesome,” Flower said.
He talked about many of the Coady participants having no swimming experience at the start.
“So it was this really beautiful, organic process where myself, and a few other volunteers, decided to spend some time with them and build up their confidence. Today’s swim meet was to celebrate their successes.
“I also coach Special Olympic swimming and thought, if we’re going to have a community event, we need to have people who represent the community in the best way possible and that is our Special Olympic swimmers.”