Competing at an Olympic Games is an incredible achievement for any athlete.
For five Echuca swimmers, the Special Olympics XI National Games in Adelaide is only weeks away.
Tayla Molluso, Casey Petrie, Noah Tonizzo, Ashley Stone and Amelia Dean were selected to represent Victoria after a highly-successful year in the water.
The five swimming stars have been training exclusively for the Games, from April 16 to 20, for the past six months at Echuca War Memorial Aquatic Centre under the tutelage of coaches Shirley Milgate and Melissa Whelan.
Milgate said the athletes had all progressed out of sight in the specialist training period.
‘‘It’s probably been eight months in the lead up to the event, and we train all year-round really,’’ she said.
‘‘In the team of 31 representing Victoria (in swimming), we have five. So it’s a huge achievement to be selected for nationals.
‘‘If they win there, they are representing Australia at the 2019 World Games, and I think there’s every chance of that happening.’’
The five swimmers were selected to represent the state having won firstly in the local competitions, and secondly in the statewide league.
‘‘That makes it more exciting I think — to have gone so well for so long to be picked for this team. In saying that, Amelia has also been selected to represent Australia for netball before, and Nat (Tonizzo) has been selected for the Victorian basketball team too,’’ Milgate said.
Milgate and Whelan will travel with the squad to Adelaide for the competition, and could not be prouder of their athletes.
‘‘They’ll each be competing in a variety of events, as well as the interstate relay for Victoria, which is always exciting,’’ Milgate said.
‘‘It’s basically a pretty full-on week of competition from start to finish. And for Casey, Amelia, Tayla and Noah it is their first time representing the state in the big leagues for swimming.’’
Milgate said the opportunities were there for anyone with an intellectual disability looking to get involved with swimming, or indeed any other sports.
She encouraged anyone who is keen to get involved, to phone Margaret Gumbleton on 0413597713.