300x200-running-start-open-water-swimmingOn Saturday Special Olympics will be holding its first open water national swimming competition at Chichester Water Sports Centre.  

“Open water swimming is the next big thing in the world of swimming and we want to make sure that our Special Olympics athletes have the opportunity to compete in this challenging environment”, says Dave Harman, Special Olympics GB Aquatics Technical Adviser.

Saturday’s event which is being run by the Amateur Swimming Association (South East Region) includes five races covering 500m, 1000m, 1500m as well as the longer distances of 2 km and 3km.  Over 80 swimmers will be taking part and among the field will be 11 Special Olympics competitors, all with intellectual disabilities.

“Our Special Olympics athletes are coming from Cheshire, Essex, Yorkshire & Humberside to compete in the shorter length competitions,” says Dave. “I am delighted to get our athletes into open water and most of them will be using this as a warm-up for the Special Olympics 2013 National Summer Games at the end of August when we will have nearly 400 athletes competing in the more traditional pool events.”

With the hot weather set to continue to the weekend the open water venue will be looking very attractive to the spectators and with the water temperate expected to be 22 – 24ºC the conditions for the competitors couldn’t be better.

“This is an ideal time to be running the pilot for our open water swimming competition as it means that our athletes have the opportunity to qualify for the major Special Olympics events that will be taking place over the next few years.”  Among the Special Olympics athletes competing on Saturday will be some who will be hoping to represent Great Britain at a European level in the Netherlands in 2014 or at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles in 2015.

Open water swimming was first debuted as a Special Olympics sport at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece as a demonstration sport.

For more information, contact Dave Harman
Special Olympics Technical Adviser, Swimming, Tel: 07803 017903
Photo: Into The Water. The start of the first Special Olympics open water swimming competition, July 1, 2011, in Greece. Photo by Diego Azubel