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Special Olympics and Aquatics

  • Published: 2010-07-03 (Revised/Updated 2011-01-11) : Author: Disabled World
  • Synopsis: People with disabilities who pursue aquatics through Special Olympics become successful swimmers and competitors.

Main Document

People with disabilities who pursue aquatics through Special Olympics become successful swimmers and competitors.

The sport of swimming is among the most popular sports in the world today. Swimming, unlike other sports activities, is a life skill that is taught first to ensure the safety of the person, and secondly for sports and competitive purposes. People with disabilities who pursue aquatics through Special Olympics become successful swimmers and competitors.

Athletes are taught aquatic techniques that develop their coordination, physical fitness and sense of accomplishment. Aquatics is a lifetime skill for both sports and fitness. Special Olympics consistently stresses the well-being of the athlete and fairness in competition. They are taught how to progress through the four competitive strokes and the medley event. The program presents athletes with instruction on how to arrange a basic training program for maximum efficiency. They are taught to design a program with the goal of obtaining an advanced level of fitness, and encouraged to have an attitude of success through personal achievement.

Special Olympics believes the best way to get a person interested in aquatics is to get them into the swimming pool. The program works with non-skilled or low-skilled swimmers from an observer to a competitor. Special Olympics presents skills to people with disabilities in an order that ensures the athlete immediate and tangible results. The skills the athlete obtains progress as their interests grow. Coaches for the aquatics program teach and coach skills which best suit the individual and their needs.

Aquatics Swimming Events

Special Olympics Aquatics events are all conducted in a meters pool. Competitions might be conducted over any distance; however, official times from meter pools are seeded in first priority for international competition over any distance. Swimming events range from twenty-five meter to fifteen-hundred meter events in:

25-Meter Freestyle
25-Meter Backstroke
25-Meter Breaststroke
25-Meter Butterfly
15-Meter Walk
15-Meter Floatation Race
25-Meter Floatation Race
10-Meter Assisted Swim
15-Meter Unassisted Swim

Good Sportsmanship

Special Olympics believes good sportsmanship is the responsibility of both the coach and the athlete. The coach and the athlete must commit to fair play, integrity, and ethical behavior. In both perception and practice, sportsmanship is defined as those qualities which are characterized by generosity and genuine concern for others. Where competitive efforts are concerned, Special Olympics believes coaches should lead by example, and athletes should:

Put forth maximum effort during each event
Practice the skills with the same intensity as you would perform them in competition
Always finish a race or event- Never quit
Always comply with the rules
Demonstrate sportsmanship and fair play at all times
Respect the decision of the officials at all times

Special Olympics Coaches

Special Olympics has evolved and expanded over the years and it has become evident to them that the key to offering athletes quality training involves local coaching. Special Olympics believes if coaches are educated in coaching methods and techniques, the mission of Special Olympics in offering quality sports training and athletic competition is enhanced for everyone involved. The organization has a number of objectives related to their Principles of Coaching course. These principles include:

To develop an understanding of Special Olympics and identify a coaching philosophy for each participant
To apply the sport management team approach in recruiting athletes, volunteers and family members and develop training plans for conducting sport-specific training programs for Special Olympics athletes
To identify practical methods for enhancing athlete performance by developing sport confidence through effective coaching techniques
To apply the principles of strength, endurance and flexibility training and nutrition as they apply to Special Olympics athletes
To provide a safe environment for Special Olympics athletes during training and competition

Special Olympics expects their coaches to always set a good example for participants and fans to follow. Coaches are expected to instruct participants in proper sportsmanship responsibilities, and to demand that athletes make ethics and sportsmanship the top priorities. Respect for the judgment of contest officials is also expected of coaches, as well as abiding by the rules of the event, and the display of appropriate behavior which does not incite fans.

Special Olympics coaches are expected to treat opposing coaches, directors, participants, and fans with respect. They are expected to shake hands with officials and the opposing coach when in public. They are also expected to develop and enforce penalties for athletes who do not abide by sportsmanship standards.

Coaches who participate in Unified Sports, like coaches for Special Olympics, are expected to accept seriously the responsibilities and privileges of representing Special Olympics. They are expected to define winning as doing your personal best. Coaches for Unified Sports, as well as those for Special Olympics, are expected to live up to the high standards of sportsmanship, and encourage teammates when they make a mistake.

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