Special Olympians shine in swim meet at the YMCA

Amanda Kram had a fun ride in the 25-yard kick. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

The YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard hosted its first ever Special Olympics swim meet last Friday in front of an enthusiastic crowd of nearly 100. Ten athletes: Mark Baird, Grace Carroll, Amanda Kram, David Lambert, Nathan Leblanc, Greg Marshall, Ryan Murray, Andres Sanchez, Austin Simonin, and Ellie Vanderhoop, competed in five events.

Everyone involved: the athletes, coaches, volunteers, and the fans were winners. At the conclusion of each event, the swimmers exited the pool and walked past the cheering crowd, smiling and high-fiving all the way.

The first event was the 25-yard paddle, which was broken up into three heats. In heat one, Greg Marshall swam the length of the Y pool in 28.98. David Lambert came in at 31.81, and Nathan Leblanc shaved a minute in 59.42.

Mark Baird took first in heat two, with a time of 1:02.81, followed by Andres Sanchez (1:24.68), and Amanda Kram (1:35.89).

In the final heat, Ellie Vanderhoop set the pace at 32.18, followed by Grace Carroll (51.11), Austin Simonin (1:00.68), and Ryan Murray (1:45.85).

Next up, was the 25-yard back paddle. Ellie Vanderhoop matched her time moving forward and blazed through the first heat in 32.18, ahead of Grace Carroll (51:11), Nathan Leblanc (1:00.68), and Austin Simonin (1:07.36).

Greg Marshall was second swiftest overall and finished heat two in 50.89. Austin gave the back paddle a second go and shaved 3.5 seconds off his time to finish in 1:03.86.

The third and longest individual event of the day was the 50-yard freestyle. Ellie Vanderhoop took on the challenge and swam two lengths for a fine lap of 1:14.40.

Seven swimmers competed over two heats in the 25-yard open swim. David Lambert stroked to the finish in 31:14. Andres Sanchez (55.79), Grace Carroll (58.46), Austin Simonin (1:04.67), Mark Baird (1:18.38), Amanda Kram (1:21.55), and Ryan Murray (2:11.46) were next to the line.

The 25-yard kick brought the official competiton to a spirited close. Each swimmer held on to a board and kicked the length of the pool. Andres Sanchez legged out a time of 1:04.58, with Amanda Kram (1:18.83), Ryan Murray (1:54.53), and Mark Baird (1:58.15) in tow.

The meet ended with MVRHS swim coach Robin Tuck, joining Jen Cleary and Victoria Scott in a relay with the Special Olympians. Patrick Best was the scorekeeper on the day and joined Jen Cleary and YMCA swimming instructor Michael Wooley in assisting the swimmers. M.V. Mako coach David Espindle and YMCA Aquatics Director Kelly McBride also were instrumental in helping all on hand to have a great experience.