Special Olympics swimmer set to compete in four events at national summer games
By Debra Downey, Senior Editor
Swimmer Beth Shearer is getting ready to “Bring it ON,” July 8-13 at the Special Olympics National Summer Games in Vancouver.
The 31-year-old will compete for athletic supremacy in the 100- and 200-metre individual medley and the 100- and 200-metre backstroke.
“I am looking forward to competing in all the events and earning medals,” said Shearer.
The veteran swimmer has participated in regional, provincial and national events for almost 20 years. To qualify for the trip to Vancouver, Shearer collected three gold and a bronze medal at the provincial Games in Kingston in 2012.
She has been practising hard for Vancouver, splitting her time between Westmount pool and training twice a week in a dedicated lane at the MacNab Street YWCA,thanks to aquatic supervisor Kim West-Acernese.
Shearer's mom, Helen said her daughter’s love for swimming is a far cry from the toddler who would do almost anything to avoid the beach.
“Beth hated standing on sand. I would carry her down to the water...she was probably about three years old...and she would look for the smallest blade of grass to stand on like a flamingo,” said Helen.
Over the ensuing years, Shearer’s mom, her principals and teachers gently conspired to help Shearer shed her fear.
“Now you can’t get her out the pool,” said mom.
Along with the competition, Shearer said she is looking forward to flying to British Columbia, meeting other people at the Games, participating in the opening ceremony — complete with her specially purchased glow sticks and laser fingers — and a big party when the competition is finished.
Members of Team Ontario will compete under the tag line “Bring it ON.” The team consists of 353 athletes, 83 coaches and 19 management staff. Ontario athletes are entered into all 11 sports at the Games, including basketball, bocce, golfing, powerlifting, soccer, softball, swimming and bowling.
Lukasz Orzel, Riley Oram, Brittney Lazar, John Wass and Nicole Vespa from the Otters swim club based at Hill Park Secondary School have also qualified. As well, Shearer’s fellow Dundas Seahawks’ Robert Duke and Chuck Restivo will make the trip to the West Coast.
For a complete list of Ontario athletes, see team.specialolympicsontario.ca.