Special Olympic swimmers strong at regional qualifier

PUHI — The Kaua‘i Special Olympics swimmers must have known how special the Regional Swim Meet was, because all of the swimmers posted new improved times in their respective events on Saturday at the YMCA pool.

“This is the first time we’re hosting the regional qualifying meet,” said Jocelyn Barriga, the Kaua‘i Special Olympics coordinator.

“Previously, we used to fly our swimmers over to Maui for the regional meet, which qualifies them to participate in the state meet. But this year, we’ve got more swimmers and coupled with the high cost of flying, we decided we would host our own meet to enable more swimmers to become eligible for the state meet,” Barriga said.

The East Kaua‘i Lions Club must have heard the part about high costs because a contingent of Lions appeared with a check for $500 to help with the Kaua‘i Special Olympics.

“A lot of people don’t know we support the Special Olympics,” said Kelvin Moniz of the East Kaua‘i Lions Club. “We actually have a Special Olympics Committee in the club.”

The Regional  Swim Meet was a full-scale meet, complete with announcers, scorekeepers, timers and fans who came out to spend a few hours with the swimmers.

“The swimmers all went to the Kaua‘i Performing Arts Center production of ‘My Fair Lady,’” said Dave Moore, who was photographing the meet. “Lucas, one of the swimmers, has a speaking part and plays three characters in the play, so they all went to the play to support him.”

Lucas Moore, who was involved with the play Friday, did not let that deter him at the pool, promptly shaving seven seconds off his seeded time in the boys 25-yard freestyle event, touching the wall at 23.17 over his seeded time of 30.31.

He continued by chopping time off his boys 50-yard freestyle, touching at 52.88 over his seeded time of 1:15.10.

Moore also was part of the mixed 100-yard freestyle relay team, which shaved time on its 1:44.73 swim over its seeded 2:20.12. Moore was in the mixed 200-yard freestyle relay team which touched at 4:53.80, a considerable improvement over its 6:10.21 seeded time.

Kaitlin Waipa’s powerful body served her well, slipping to a 25.34 swim in the girls 15-yard assisted event, almost three seconds ahead of Mariana Munoz, who in the girls 15-yard flotation, came from behind to touch a half second ahead of Waipa. Both girls finished with better times in two of the three events they swam in.

Katherine Tan, coupled with Waipa and Munoz in the first event, also was aided by the two girls’ swims, Tan touching with a 31.82 swim, encouraged by fans and officials en route to an improvement over her 33.30 seeded time.

Kalea Snyder’s performance in the girls 25-yard freestyle helped Sarah Peck, both girls posting improvements in the swim, Kalea touching at 30.87 over her seeded 50.00 and Peck touching at 35.71 over her seeded 42.01.

Peck also posted improvements in the girls 50-yard freestyle (1:26.43) and the girls 50-yard backstroke (2:08.50)

Kylie Chang  roared through the event on a 41.95 swim over her seeded 1:43.81 time. She also posted an improvement in her girls 50-yard backstroke (2:25.13) and the girls 25-yard backstroke (48.84).

Abigail Jenkins posted improvements in the girls 25-yard breaststroke (35.67) and in the girls 50-yard freestyle (1:02.74).

Pua Rapozo finished strong in the girls 50-yard freestyle (51.57) and the girls 25-yard butterfly (30.46), both events being improvements over her seeded times.

Amara Coon also posted improvements, the first coming in the girls 50-yard backstroke, where she touched at 1:00.55, an improvement over her seeded 1:16.50. In the girls 25-yard backstroke, she touched at 23.85, over her seeded 28.50.

The Kaua‘i Special Olympic swimmers will be heading to O‘ahu for the state championships to be held during the Memorial Day weekend.


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