Zionsville high schoolers are swimming for Special Olympics

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Group picture from top row (left to right) and then bottom row (left to right.) Ryan Carlson, Josh Dull, Brock Brown, Alex Cleveland, Mackenzie Wilt, Maggie Derksen, Tyler Harmon, Julia Plant, Maddie Long, Cole Reitnauer, Tyler Schrettenbrunner, Zoe Guicken, Jessica Sell, Sabrina Coleman, Sydney Boyce, Sarah Luciani, Leighann Mattson, Ryan Bohl, Paul Smith, Andrew Schuler. (Submitted photo)

Group picture from top row (left to right) and then bottom row (left to right.) Ryan Carlson, Josh Dull, Brock Brown, Alex Cleveland, Mackenzie Wilt, Maggie Derksen, Tyler Harmon, Julia Plant, Maddie Long, Cole Reitnauer, Tyler Schrettenbrunner, Zoe Guicken, Jessica Sell, Sabrina Coleman, Sydney Boyce, Sarah Luciani, Leighann Mattson, Ryan Bohl, Paul Smith, Andrew Schuler. (Submitted photo)

By Julia Plant

Tyler Harmon, ZCHS sophomore and member of the Zionsville Swim Club, received a Disney “Friends for Change” grant in late spring.

“Friends for Change” grants offer kids an opportunity to receive $500 to help make a lasting, positive impact in their community. Harmon chose to host a swimming clinic for Special Olympics high school athletes at the Zionsville Aquatics Center on Aug. 9.

“My uncle was a Special Olympic athlete for many years, so I decided to use my swimming abilities to help special needs kids with swim lessons,” Harmon said.

Ten Zionsville Swim Club athletes volunteered to give a one on one lesson to the 10 Special Olympic athletes. In addition, they played water games and had pizza and cupcakes for lunch. The grant was used to pay for each Special Olympic athlete’s swim gear at Circle City Swimwear prior to the event.

Maddie Long, SO athlete said: “I liked the diving boards, basketball hoop and food.”

Tom Derksen, Hamilton County Special Olympics swim coach said: “It’s a really great thing for the SO athletes to be able to interact with typical athletes their age.”

The SO athletes had an hour and thirty minute long lesson with their instructor and did a group relay swim at the end.

Susan Ross-Long, the parent of an SO athlete stated in an e-mail: “It was an amazing opportunity and we are very grateful. Special Olympics has provided Maddie not only the opportunity to participate in various sports, but, it has also been and continues to be the source of friendships and support for Maddie and our family.”

The Indiana High School Athletic Association posted the event pictures at the Champions Together (Facebook) and Champs Together (Twitter), and also provided IHSAA T-shirts to all participants.

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