Beaufort’s Special Olympics Swim Team, known at the Carolina Hammerhead Sharks, competed in meets in both Charleston and Columbia in May.
At the State Summer Games which were held at Fort Jackson in Columbia on May 6-8th, over 1200 athletes, 200 coaches and 850 event volunteers participated in eight sports that made up the games. Beaufort’s Carolina Hammerhead Sharks captured five medals in all: Jacob Slatko, Shawn McEvoy and Michaela Knoppel each won gold medals for finishing first in their individual races. Jason Deschamps and Joy Thompson won silver medals in closely contested events. The athletes have been practicing since last September at the YMCA in Beaufort. Coach Debra Marshall said, “I am so proud of everybody on the team. Remember that many of the team members were racing for the first time in State level competition and swimming newly learned strokes.”
Part of the State Games included the Law Enforcement “Torch Run.” Officers and athletes took the “Flame of Hope” from the State Capitol Building to Fort Jackson. Olympic athletes followed the runners inside a gymnasium filled with enthusiastic soldiers for the Opening Ceremonies. Following the competitions on Saturday, the athletes were treated to a health fair where the Lions Club examined eyes and fitted glasses for those in need. The closing ceremonies were followed by a dance and fellowship among all participants.
The Charleston competition is where we had the regional tournament before the state meet. It was made possible by the YMCA of Beaufort County who let the team use their pool for year round practicing. Also, the manager and staff at Huddle House on Lady’s Island gave us a great send-off by providing an excellent protein based breakfast. Additionally, the joyous attitudes from other patrons and staff prior to our travels certainly helped the team score a record of 15 medals! The Carolina Hammerhead Sharks swim team could not succeed without the help of the community and special friends like them. This gracious service meant a lot to each family and swimmer.
Beaufort’s Special Olympics swim team will begin practice for next year’s competitions this summer. Donations and volunteers are always welcome to help the swimmers be able and learn to compete. If interested in supporting our local team then call 843-982-2722.
Top photo: Shawn McEvoy, Maurice Montgomery, Joy Thompson, Jason Descamps, Michaela Knoppel, Jacob Slatko, Norah Swain, Ana David and Sofia David.