Hopes for Special Olympics squad

Members of the Otago Special Olympics swimming team. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
Members of the Otago Special Olympics swimming team. Photo by Gregor Richardson.

Philip Lomas finds out next week whether he will represent his country at the Special Olympics World Summer Games.

A member of the Otago Special Olympics swimming team, the 31-year-old is a reserve for the New Zealand squad.

He will be told on Friday whether he will travel to Los Angeles for the games in July.

Mr Lomas, of Dunedin, trains at the Otago Therapeutic Pool each week, with up to 40 other Otago Special Olympics members.

Mr Lomas, who has autism, has been in the Otago team for nearly 15 years, but had made huge progress with his turns and overall confidence in recent years, assistant coach Codie Roud (22) said.

Ms Roud said she had seen Mr Lomas transform into a ''completely different person'' in the four years she had helped the team.

Team members encouraged and supported one other.

''They're all really good friends with each other,'' Ms Roud said of the team members.

Dunedin hosted the national games, at Moana Pool, which had not been as well suited to the team's needs, Ms Roud said.

Parent helper Clare Brown said Special Olympics training would likely come to an end if the physio pool had to close.

Access to hoists, water temperature, and lack of noise were all important factors for team members.

Special Olympics swimmers had an intellectual disability, but often also had a physical disability.

Mrs Brown said it was gratifying to see the community had started to embrace the physio pool campaign.

The team's coach of almost 25 years, Margaret van Betuw, is overseas at present.

The team includes a developmental squad and a swim squad.


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