Welch competes in Special Olympics

Published 9:23 pm Thursday, March 3, 2011

Joey Welch know all about doing his best.

Today, Joey will do his best in hopes that it will be enough to qualify him for the state Special Olympics at Troy University in May.

Joey will compete in the sectional swim meet in Opelika which is a qualifying meet for the Special Olympics. He competes in the unassisted 50-meter free-style and back stroke swimming events which is a huge jump from the assisted 15- and 20 meter events in which he competed in the 2007 through 2010 Special Olympics.

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“I won eight gold medals in those Olympics and I hope and can win a gold medal this year,” he said. “I think I can.”

The assisted competitions are held in an indoor pool and the unassisted swims are in an outdoor pool.

“I like the indoor pool better because the outside pool is so big,” Joey said.

Meredith trains two to three nights a week and credits his coaches, Shane Tatum and Kirkk asdfads with his being able to compete in the longer, more demanding swims.

“Shane is a coach with the Troy swim team and has really helped Joey increase his endurance,” said Joey’s mom, Meredith Welch. “Joey has been swimming almost all his life but had very little endurance. And, he didn’t know the different storkes. Shane and Kirk has worked with him to increase his endurance and they have taught him the back stroke and the breast stroke, which he calls the stomach stroke.”

Meredith said her son is a very dedicated swimmer and works hard to improve.

“Joey really enjoys the competition and the swimmers are placed in groups that are in the same ability level,” she said. “That way they are not discouraged by having to compete against swimmers that are a whole lot faster than they are.”

Joey said that he is very excited to be competiting in the 15- and 20-meter events.

“This will be the first time I’ve done these races and it’s going to be fun,” he said. “I hope I’ll win gold.”

Joey is a member of Team Troy and several other members of the team will attempt to qualify for the Special Olympics in other events in the next few weeks.

The Special Olympics is a global organizatoion that serves more than 3.4 million athletes with intellectual disabilities working with hundreds of thousands of volunteers and coaches each year.

Since the establishment of Special Olympics in 1968, the number of people with and without intellectual disabilities who are involved with the organization has been growing, but the unmet need to reach more people with intellectual disabilities is staggering.