ANTIGONISH, N.S. - Elizabeth Abler, by her own admission, has never seen herself swim as fast as she has been at the 2018 Special Olympics Summer Games in Antigonish. But Abler didn’t care about placing when she aced the women’s 25m backstroke on Thursday afternoon.
She’d already won a gold medal in the 50m freestyle the previous day. Her focus on Thursday was beating her best time – something she exceeded by nine seconds, finishing the intense aquatic rush to the other side of the pool in 46 seconds.
“I didn’t realize I did well until after I realized I was waiting for people,” Abler said with a chuckle. “When you’re waiting for other people to finish, that’s usually a good sign. I was thinking about the gold medal I got last night.”
The Antigonish swimmer has been training for the national level competition since last August. This training entailed everything from formal training camps, to walks around her street and rigorous hikes that she embarked upon with her crutches.
“I didn’t think I could hike with my crutches,” Abler said.
While training, Adler said her diet was tweaked in many ways, to provide optimal nutrition for her as she went through her rigorous training.
“They were also making sure I was getting enough sleep, and making sure we got exercise three times a week,” Abler said.
When she got into the water for the 25m backstroke, Abler said she was “a little nervous – and mostly excited.”
“I was more focused on thinking, ‘let’s just get to the other side of the pool,’ instead of thinking about the other people who were swimming,” Abler said. “I was more focused on getting a personal best time. I was very surprised when I medaled yesterday, because with 200 other swimmers it’s really hard to medal.”
Abler said swimming runs in her family, with an aunt and a mother who were both competitive swimmers.
In anticipation of her participating in national-level competition, Abler’s uncle Andy mailed her one of her aunt Nancy’s gold medals for luck – a gesture she is certain proved to be an boon to her performance at the games.