MAY 24, 2018 – In the fall of 2017, the Jewish Community Center of the North Shore in Marblehead expanded its highly successful Sea Serpent swim team to include Olympic Way, a team for swimmers with physical challenges and neurodiverse abilities. JCCNS Olympic Way competes in Special Olympics events.
During weekly practices, the swimmers are able to bond through team-building activities, as well as develop individually as athletes by practicing customized workouts created by their coaches.
On April 22, Olympic Way members attended their first Special Olympic qualification meet at Bridgewater State University.
“The meet was initially a bit overwhelming for a lot of our swimmers,” said Coach Brandon O’Donnell, “but that didn’t stop them. I encouraged them by saying ‘We may be small but we are mighty!’” before the swimmers started their first event.
“With the time and effort that the swimmers put into their training, it was no surprise that each of them qualified for the finals meet at Harvard University, an incredible accomplishment that has brought them, their families, and their coaches a tremendous amount of pride.”
Results from the meet included:
Anthony Legee: 1st place, 11-and-under 25-meter backstroke; Max Kaplan: 2nd in 12-14 25m backstroke, 2nd in 12-14 50m freestyle; Jacob Yellin: 1st in adult 50m backstroke, 1st in adult 50m freestyle; and Max Schapiro: 1st in 12-14 25m backstroke, 1st in 12-14 50m freestyle.
While holding up his hard-earned gold medals, Schapiro proclaimed, “Now I know how Michael Phelps feels!”
The coaches, O’Donnell and Bailey Eastwood, “care, support, and encourage the swimmers all to be the best they can,” Max’s mother said. “The swimmers are really lucky to have them both as coaches.”
O’Donnell thinks he’s the lucky one to be coaching the kids and having the opportunity to see them accomplish things that bring them such a great sense of pride.
“I love that we are able to help our swimmers achieve goals they may not have previously thought they could achieve,” he said.
The JCCNS Olympic Way swim team will continue training through the summer and is encouraging more swimmers to join.