Gladstone Gladiators and Special Olympic swim clubs swim together in a regional first Unified Swim Meet.
Gladstone Gladiators and Special Olympic swim clubs swim together in a regional first Unified Swim Meet.

Olympian was inspired by Special Olympic swimmers

SWIMMING: Gladstone Gladiators Swimming Club is now the second mainstream club in Australia to host and swim with Special Olympic athletes in a Unified Swimming Carnival.

Ariana Carter from Goodlife Swimming Club in Buderim in her 50m breaststroke race at the Unified Swim Meet in Gladstone on the weekend
Ariana Carter from Goodlife Swimming Club in Buderim in her 50m breaststroke race at the Unified Swim Meet in Gladstone on the weekend

Special Olympic swimmers travelled from the Sunshine Coast, Gympie, Gold Coast and Brisbane to compete in Gladstone recently and Gladiators vice-president Michael McVicar was pleased with the turnout.

"It was an amazing day for our swimmers as they welcomed the Special O clubs as part of the Special Olympics Multi Sports weekend," he said.

"The highlight was definitely the mixed relays with our Gladiators teaming up with the Special O competitors."

Duncan Armstrong presents 1st and 2nd place ribbons to Special O swimmers from Brisbane.
Duncan Armstrong presents 1st and 2nd place ribbons to Special O swimmers from Brisbane.

Some older swimmers and coaches were star struck with former Olympic swimmer Duncan Armstrong present to hand out awards and give some tips, not just about swimming.

L-R: Ariana Carter from Buderim, Grace Hegerty from Brisbane swam alongside Gladiator Celeste Cox in the 50m breaststroke.
L-R: Ariana Carter from Buderim, Grace Hegerty from Brisbane swam alongside Gladiator Celeste Cox in the 50m breaststroke.

"Invest in your kids and good things will happen in our community. If you see potential, then foster it," he said.

In her first ever swimming carnival, Isla Williams (7) receives her ribbon from former Olympian Duncan Armstrong.
In her first ever swimming carnival, Isla Williams (7) receives her ribbon from former Olympian Duncan Armstrong.

"Special Olympics has something to offer everyone and it is all about effort, fun, excitement and achievement.

"It has been a privilege to be involved in the event and all credit to Suzie Lawler and her band of helpers for organisers for such a great event."

Gladstone Special Olympic coach Terry Fellows was proud.

"It was so great to see all the clubs mixing, being supportive and having fun," he said.

"For some of the junior Gladiators, this was their first carnival experience so it was good to see them shake off their nerves and have a go."

L-R: Gladiators and Special O Coach Terry Fellows with Gladstone Region Special Olympic swimmers Chris Hayden and Levi Harris alongside former Olympic medallist Duncan Armstrong (2nd right)
L-R: Gladiators and Special O Coach Terry Fellows with Gladstone Region Special Olympic swimmers Chris Hayden and Levi Harris alongside former Olympic medallist Duncan Armstrong (2nd right)

Armstrong continued to inspire over dessert on Saturday night and was full of admiration for all the athletes and their supporters for being involved and inspired them to continue to challenge themselves.

"Your dreams will put you in contact with people who will see potential in you and they will provide you with information that will fire your imagination, fire your curiosity, spark your heart and make you do crazy things to reach your dreams," Armstrong said.

The next carnival to be hosted by the Gladstone Gladiators will be Liquid Energy in November.