At the urging of his private swimming instructor many years ago, Dan, at the age of 12, became involved with Special Olympics Connecticut (SOCT). Dan started with swimming and the unified sports program in middle school in Simsbury Public Schools where he met some of his best friends and they are still together today.
Dan, who turns 25 on May 3, currently participates in sports 4 seasons of the year. Snowshoeing, swimming, softball and bowling.
In preparation for the 2012 SOCT Summer Games, Dan will train twice a week at the Farmington Valley Y in Granby. He also trains an additional day each week in Avon or Simsbury honing his bowling and snowshoeing skills.
The Simsbury SOCT swim team will begin practice in early April for the June games; however, as Dan also will be participating in the brand new Unified Triathlon at the end of April he has already started working on endurance. Dan will be swimming the 400 meter portion of the event.
To Dan, “Special Olympics means, having fun, seeing old friends, making new friends, and competing. This is a great way to try and stay in shape.”
At the last SOCT Winter Games, Dan got 2 gold medals, 1 in the 4x100 meter relay and 1 in the 100 meter race. These allow him to be considered for representing CT on TEAM USA in the World Games next year in South Korea.
Dan works, through FAVARH (Farmington Valley ARC), at the Hartford Healthcare Federal Credit Union in Hartford 3 days a week. He spends the other 2 days doing front end work at the Granby Stop ’n Shop. Dan earned his BSA Eagle rank in September of 2007.
He likes to watch the History channel, Discovery channel (especially Mythbusters and How It’s Made) as well as Jeopardy. He is interested in anything to do with the US Navy and the US Space Program. Dan is a big Red Sox and NE Patriots fan!
Update from Dan’s final practice:
On May 12th Dan and the Simsbury Special Olympics team placed in Regional Games!
The medal count for 13-member Simsbury Team in the regionals was as follows:
Dan is pictured here with his coach Chad and his friend Nick at the regional games.
Dan turned in an outstanding performance at regionals winning a Gold medal in the 100 meter freestyle, a Silver medal in the 400 meter freestyle and a Bronze medal in the 50 meter freestyle. The silver medal in the 400 meter freestyle is made even more impressive given that he competed in the event directly following the finished of the 100 meter race.
Dan readies for this weekend’s Summer Games
Dan and his team put in their last training session before this weekend’s S.O.C.T. Summer Games.
“Everybody has been training very hard this season,” said Don, Dan’s Dad, “and of course the dinner and dance on Saturday night.”
Ever the good sport, Dan wanted us to include this message before the summer games.
“I hope the best for everyone. I want to thank Foxwoods for being the Special Olympics Aquatics sponsor and I'm glad I was able to participate in their program."
From all of us at Foxwoods, Best of Luck to you Dan!! You have already made us proud!
Update from Dan’s practice on Tuesday, May 8:
"Today we continued working on our events for the Regional and State games. I’m doing the 50 meter and 100 meter freestyle events as well as a relay. I also practiced the backstroke just for the fun of it. We played a game called 'snake' where everyone is in a line and they all follow each other. The leader decides where the 'snake' goes. We’re are all getting excited for the Regional and State games."
Update from Special Olympics Triathlon on Sunday, April 29:
l-r Gold medal Unified Triathlon Team from Simsbury - Tim C., Dan S., Ryan C.
The first Special Olympics unified triathlon in the US was held on Sunday April 29, 2012 in North Haven, CT. Twelve teams competed in 3 divisions consisting of 2 Special Olympics athletes and 1 partner. Cycling, swimming and track competitions were held simultaneously. Timed scores were then combined for each team and medals were awarded at 3pm. Dan and his teammates won the gold for their division. They had a combined time of around 30 minutes for a 1 mile run, 3km ride and a 400 meter swim. Dan’s time for the 400 meter swim was 9:01 even. Dan’s team was made up of current and former scouts from BSA troop 76 in Simsbury.
Dan: “Today was excellent. I have never been in a triathlon before. This is a perfect warm-up for the summer games in June.”
Update from Dan’s practice on Tuesday, April 17:
Since Simsbury schools were on vacation, Dan did some practicing on his own on April 17.
“Practice went well. I’m improving on my skills. I’m up to 18 pool lengths. I’ll be happy when I get back together with my team mates next week.”
Update from Dan’s practice on Tuesday, April 10:
Dan continued to do laps training for the 100 meter, 200 meter and 400 meter swim events.
“Practice was excellent,” said Dan. “We got our timings for the regional games. This gives the officials the times necessary to put people who swim the same speed together.”
Update from Dan’s practice on Tuesday, April 3:
These 3 will be on 3 different Unified Triathlon teams competing on April 29th in New Haven. Selena, Dan and Nick (left to right) are getting coaching on proper arm technique from Coach Rita. All 3 have been on the Simsbury team for a number of years.
Dan is up to a consistent 12 pool lengths.
“It felt good to be back in the water with my team mates,” said Dan. “Practice was excellent. Learning the proper arm movements can help me swim faster.”
Update from Dan’s practice on Monday, March 26:
Dan is up to 6 lengths without stopping, well on his way to 16 lengths or 8 laps. Today, as every time, we worked on endurance. We also started working on leg strength as can be seen by the use of the kickboard. Our plan next time is to start with the kickboard for a few lengths, do some lengths with the piece between the knees to strengthen his arm muscles and then a few lengths using both arms and legs. We are also going to re-acquaint Dan with the use of the starting blocks. This is a somewhat new skill as he has never really been comfortable starting this way. It will be a great skill for him to acquire. Time will tell. –Don, Debbie and Dan S.
"Before practice I was exhausted but after I had more energy. Exercise gives you more energy and the cold water really wakes you up." –Dan
Kyle is a 13 year old teenager in the 7th grade who likes reading, video games, Chuck Norris jokes, swimming, and Boy Scouts. Kyle is a bright student and is able to maintain a high GPA. Kyle was diagnosed with Autism at a very young age. An amazing support team was put into place and a well rounded routine of social therapy, occupational therapy, sensory integration, and speech therapy was implemented. Kyle has grown from using sign language and being a flight risk to becoming a well-rounded young man who needs minimal cues and reminders.
When Kyle turned 8 years old, we were looking for a sport related program and enrolled him in the Special Olympics of Southeastern Connecticut (SOCT) Groton Special Recreation program. Through Special Olympics, Kyle has participated in softball, floor hockey, sailing, bowling, and swimming. Kyle’s favorite sport is swimming and he has participated for over 5 years with the SOCT Groton Dolphins. He competes at every regional and state game in the 25 meter individual freestyle race and has recently added the 50 meter individual freestyle and the Unified 4 x 25 meter relay race. The term Unified means that on a 4 person relay team there are two Special Olympic athletes and two volunteer mentors. Kyle’s relay team is made up his best friend, Conor, his brother, Kenneth, and friend and fellow Special Olympic athlete, Jeffrey. Recently, Kyle has developed a desire for ice skating and Ice hockey.
The key to all of his integration and social inclusion is maintaining a schedule with a plan. Kyle’s current plan is to attend the Norwich Free Academy for high school, the University of Rhode Island for Marine Biology, and finally to dedicate his life’s work to exploring ocean life with Robert Ballard.
Becca is friendly and talkative with many and varied interests. She absolutely loves music of all kinds. She does not read music; however, she tinkers at the piano and has taught herself to play guitar. Becca enjoys "learning about stuff, like history, art, technology," and old music groups. (She's very into Moody Blues lately.) She likes learning about how things were invented. Much to the chagrin of her parents, Becca is an avid fan of Facebook.
Becca's mom, Corinne, was working as a counselor, when, while working with a co-worker she noticed that one of the children who would be swimming at Special Olympic Connecticut had Williams syndrome-the same developmental disability that Becca has. When Corinne (mom) mentioned the opportunity to Becca, she was excited and a little nervous. She was invited to swim with the team, and, the rest, as they, say is history!
In addition to swimming, Becca also plays soccer, basketball, and participate in track and field. She proudly plays on the Unified Sports Track and Field and Basketball teams.
“I played soccer from kindergarten to 8th grade at Parks and Rec. I am the manager for of High School basketball team. I practice with the girls and go on the bus with them to away games.”
“My guidance counselor dropped by my resource room and asked me if i wanted to try something out. I end up going to the main gym and I see a bunch of girls. I had no idea what I was going to do. So a coach came over and asked me if i wanted to help the girls’ basketball team and I said sure. For the first year I was so confused. I didn't really know anyone except people from my classes who were trying out. So the second year I went mostly to home games. Not that many away games. This year I did both and I got the hang of it now. I feel very social with the team. I went to a bunch of pasta parties including one on my birthday. At practice that day the team wore purple which is my favorite color. They gave me a purple and orange basketball signed by the team."
Involved in Special Olympics swimming for 5 years, Becca trains at the Shelton Community Center. Becca had her first practice last weekend, March 31, 2012. She “forgot how much of a workout it was” with soar arms and legs to prove it. And, the water was 'freezing' leaving Becca with “goose bumps all over."
The first practice session consisted of stretching, working with a kickboard for 5 minutes, followed by 5 minutes of arm strengthening, followed by practice runs of her events. This year Becca plans to compete in 100-meter backstroke, 100-meter and 50-meter free stroke.
“The water was freezing by the way. I got goose bumps and I was shivering like crazy.” (Note the second reference to the freezing cold water).
“When I was done with my 100-free style, I had to push my arms and legs really hard to go down and back 2 times since the length of the lane is 25 meters. In my mind, I was like OMG, I’m so tired. But I made it, so that was good!”
Update from Becca’s practice on Saturday, May 19:
Becca poses with her brother Joe before the prom
"Since it was my prom that night, I said I really didn't feel like going because I would have been tired. But my mom wanted me to go so I did. At practice, everyone was asking about my prom. They asked about what i was going to wear. I told them I was wearing a black and white dress."
"When I got home I zoomed into the shower because my cousin was coming to do my hair and my make-up. I was so excited and I wanted to be ready for her. I got my hair done in a messy bun with curls. Then we all went to my friend's house and took pre-prom pictures. Finally, we went to the prom and danced the night away."
Update from Becca’s practice week of April 25:
“I felt ready to go,” said Becca before practice. “Also, I felt calm since my Grandma was there. I was interested to see what it would be like to watch me swim. She hasn't done that before. I wasn't sure how I would feel after.”
“One moment that stood out for me this practice was during a drill. I swam faster and I pushed myself. I was working harder than I usually do, I just don't know why, really. After practice I was really sore in my muscles--basically my legs and my knees. I don't know why it hurt a lot but a good swim pays off.”