ELAC wins gold in Special Olympics

MEDAL WINNERS— Swim Coach Elias Roach is flanked by ELAC Special Olympics Swim Team members Melissa Rivera (left) who won gold and Ramsey Sanchez (right) who won silver. Photo by Marilyn Ladd

Gold and silver medals were awarded to ELAC’s Special Olympics Swim Team Saturday during the 2018 Los Angeles/San Gabriel Valley Special Olympics Spring Regional.

Winning gold in the 50 and 100 meter freestyle was Melissa Rivera, who also won a silver medal in the 50 meter backstroke. Athletes can only compete in three events, and Rivera won in all of the events she entered.

The silver medal in the 100 meter freestyle went to Ramsey Sanchez, who also won a silver medal for the 50 meter backstroke. For the 25 meter freestyle, Beatriz Uribe won gold.

“This is the first year that ELAC has fielded a Special Olympics Swim Team, and based on results, they did very well for their first meet ever,” said Marilyn Ladd, ELAC’s Adaptive Swimming Instructor and Special Olympics Team Adviser.

Saturday’s games, held at Whittier College, were regional competitions for Los Angeles and San Gabriel. The team was practicing weekly since March with the Special Olympics Swim Coach and ELAC Lifeguard Elias Roach.

All three winners are ELAC students, but being one was not required to join the swim team. After the application process, practices are scheduled and events are assigned based on several  factors. “It goes by their skill level, their intellectual ability to understand the swim — some are assisted, some unassisted,” Ladd said.

Following Saturday’s big win, two of the three big winners were eager to get back to practice. “That’s the only thing they’re interested in — ‘Do we have practice today?’” Ladd said.

As a new team, they were unable to compete in the championship. However, Rivera, Sanchez and Uribe will return to compete next season with a chance to go to Dubai for the 2019 Special Olympics Summer games.

For information on joining the ELAC Special Olympics Swim Team, contact Ladd from the Kinesiology Department.

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