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Family YMCA to Launch Special Olympics Swimming Program

Special Olympics SwimmingThe Westport Weston Family YMCA is partnering with Special Olympics Connecticut to create a swim team for children and young adults with intellectual disabilities.

Starting in January 2016, the new Special Olympics Westport-Weston YMCA Swimming Program will give local youth ages 8 to 21 years old the opportunity to learn or improve their swimming abilities, the chance to be a part of a team and to participate in competitions, including the Aquatics contests that are part of the 2016 Special Olympics Connecticut Summer Games, June 10-12, held in the greater New Haven area.

Special Olympics Swimming at the YMCA will be offered year-round in 8-week sessions beginning January 11, 2016, with 45-minute sessions in the YMCA’s Lap Pool taking place each Sunday at 3:30 pm. Practices will be age and ability appropriate and coordinated by a Certified Swim Coach and volunteer assistant coaches.

“Aquatics has long been an important part of our Family YMCA,” says Jay Jaronko, Senior Program Director. “Thousands of children and adults have learned to swim at the Y over the years; our Water Rat and Masters swim teams have produced champions at all levels; and day in day out, our pools are busy with members of all ages swimming for exercise and fun. We’re very excited to be able to offer these athletes and their families the same opportunity to learn, grow and thrive.”

Thanks to a successful fundraising effort by a local family interested in creating a Special Olympics program that would serve the Westport and Weston communities, there is no cost to participants of the program. The YMCA will help the Special Olympics Westport-Weston YMCA Swimming Program cover ongoing costs with additional fundraising support.

“A local family came to us with a community need we all agreed on – Westport needs more programs for children and young adults with special needs,” adds Jaronko. “What made it happen was the family’s passion and commitment, together with the expertise from our new friends at Special Olympics Connecticut. With their support, Aquatics will be just the start of Special Olympics programs at the Family YMCA.”

SOCT logoBased in Hamden, Special Olympics Connecticut provides year-round sports training and competitions for over 13,000 athletes (individuals with intellectual disabilities) and Unified Partners (individuals without intellectual disabilities who are the athletes’ teammates).

“Special Olympics Connecticut allows families to be a part of a year-round sports training and competition program, which also provides the entire family with opportunities for sports, social interaction and fun,” says Marc Mercadante, Senior Director of Community Impact for Special Olympics Connecticut. “We’re thrilled that the YMCA is welcoming these families by giving their young athletes new ‘home waters’ for them to develop physical fitness, new skills and experience the joy of being part of a team.”

Registration for the Special Olympics Westport-Weston YMCA Swimming Program opens Nov. 30. Here’s the process:

Step 1: Visit www.soct.org/get-involved/become-athlete/.

Step 2: A parent/guardian must complete an Athlete Medical form, an Athlete Release form and the Athlete Interest Form. These forms are required and are valid for 36 months. Email all completed forms to jjaronko@westporty.org.

Step 3: Register your child with the YMCA by phone: 203-226-8981; Online at www.westporty.org/register; or in person at the YMCA’s Bedford Family Center at 14 Allen Raymond Lane in Westport.

For more information about the Special Olympics Westport-Weston YMCA Swimming Program, contact Jay Jaronko at 203-226-8983 or jjaronko@westporty.org. To find out more about Special Olympics Connecticut, please visit www.soct.org.