Celebrating the Open Water Swimming Champions at the 2023 Berlin Special Olympics

Celebrating the Open Water Swimming Champions at the 2023 Berlin Special Olympics

Berlin played host to the 2023 Special Olympics World Games, drawing together approximately 7,000 athletes from 170 nations. Distinguished by their intellectual disabilities, these athletes embarked on an ambitious quest for medals, pitting their skills against one another in a wide-ranging array of 24 sporting disciplines. The Special Olympics organization, renowned for its meticulous coordination, employed a comprehensive approach, inviting participants from a multitude of national programs, known as SOs. The Special Olympics Germany community is encapsulated by their resounding motto: “Nothing about us without us having a say.”

Open water swimming has been a featured sport at the Special Olympics World Games since 2011. This sport embraces Unified Sports, allowing athletes to compete alongside Unified partners.

Special Olympics open water swimming showcases several distinct features. Competitions solely consist of the freestyle stroke, while allowing participants to employ other swimming styles, including backstroke, breaststroke, or sidestroke. Swimmers have the liberty to walk and stand in the water during the event, and if required, they can seek support or encouragement by resting or holding on to objects like boats, paddle boards, ropes, or safety personnel. However, it is important to note that they cannot enhance their position in the race while utilizing these means of rest or recovery.

The open water swimming category at the Special Olympics World Games comprises two distinct competitions: the 1500m open water swim and the 1500m Unified Sports open water swim.

In the F01 division of the Special Olympics World Games, Cornelia Fowler, representing South Africa received the gold medal by completing the event in 29 minutes and 25.2 seconds. Not far behind, Gina Grant from the United States of America exhibited her exceptional skills, securing the silver medal with an impressive time of 29 minutes and 57.9 seconds. Showing determination, Elke Jaeger, representing Germany and claimed the bronze medal, completing the event in 34 minutes and 42.5 seconds.

In the F02 division of the Special Olympics World Games, Patrizia Spaulding representing Germany clinched the first-place position, earning the gold medal with an impressive time of 34 minutes and 34.7 seconds. Stephanie Barrera Acosta from Puerto Rico showcased her skills and secured the silver medal, finishing closely behind with a time of 35 minutes and 32.4 seconds. Demonstrating great determination, Anita Greco representing Italy claimed the bronze medal, completing the event in 37 minutes and 15.4 seconds.

In the M01 division of the Special Olympics World Games, Trent Bethel from Trinidad and Tobago finished first, securing the gold medal with a time of 20 minutes and 25.7 seconds. Armando Renta Ramos representing Puerto Rico claimed the second position and earned the silver medal, completing the event in 22 minutes and 28.7 seconds. Rasheed Lawrence from the Cayman Islands finished third, earning the bronze medal with a time of 24 minutes and 10.9 seconds.

In the M02 division of the Special Olympics World Games, Kai-Jürgen Poenisch from Germany claimed the gold medal, completing the event in 28 minutes and 34.8 seconds. Justas Truskauskas representing Lithuania secured the silver medal with a time of 28 minutes and 54.7 seconds. Eoin O’Connell from Ireland earned the bronze medal, finishing the event in 29 minutes and 53.5 seconds.

The unified sports race was won by Mexico’s Pablo Escalona and Oscar Inowe Perez in 25:18.2, with Germany taking a silver through Leo Heckel and Adrian Schlüter in 25:33.5.

Photo: Pablo Ulises Lazaro Escalona and Oscar Manuel Inowe (CDMX) Special Olympics Mexico

WOWSA