Erick Harmon

Erick Harmon comes up for a breath of air while competing in the 25-yard freestyle at the Area V Summer Games last Saturday at Glenrock Intermediate School. Harmon and many other Douglas Special Olympics athletes competed in swimming events against athletes from Casper, Natrona and Carbon County.

Erick Harmon pulled his body through the water at the Glenrock Intermediate School pool as family members and teammates loudly cheered him on. Two lanes over, Colter Pollock trailed close behind as both swimmers inched their way toward the wall.

This was the scene for the Division 7 race in the 25-yard freestyle at the swimming portion of last Saturday’s Area V Summer Games in Glenrock. The games brought together Special Olympics athletes from Casper, Douglas, Glenrock and Carbon County. Powerlifting was held at Kelly Walsh High School on Friday, while basketball, swimming and track were held in Glenrock on Saturday. It marked the first time that Converse County #2 School District hosted a portion of the games.

“We were really pleased with our athletes,” Douglas assistant coach Melissa Deming said. “I thought the games went well and we had a lot of fun.”

Tyler George and Bret Porter represented Douglas in the powerlifting competition at Kelly Walsh, while 13 swimmers took to the waters for several different events Saturday afternoon, including the 25 and 50-yard freestyle, the 1-meter springboard dive, the 25-yard butterfly, the 25 and 50-yard breaststroke and the 25-yard backstroke.

Following the conclusion of each division race, swimmers made their way through the narrow hallway out of the pool area and received a medal on the podium from Glenrock Police Chief David Theel. Still dripping wet with pool water and feeling a sense of pride after victory, athletes like Trevor Deming and Enrique Rafael looked at home on the podium.

“Preparation began about six weeks before the games,” Deming recalled. “The divers practiced twice a week, working together and getting comfortable and I was pleased with how all of them swam.”

Deming pointed out the help from five unified partners, including Luis Rafael, Ashley Nendza, Jordan Miller, Hope Hernandez and Cody Harmon. She credited them for their help with her special needs athletes and praised them for “stepping up” to work together.

“We’ve never swam in Glenrock,” Deming added. “It was a little hot in there at times, but I really felt that they did a good job of providing a venue for everyone.”

Each Douglas athlete will now move on to the State Summer Games to be held in Laramie May 9-11. 700 athletes and partners will flock to the games and will once again participate in powerlifting, basketball, swimming and athletics.

As for the future of the Area V Games, Douglas athletes may have the luxury of competing in Glenrock again in the future.

“Overall the games were very successful,” said Dan Lang, Director of Field Services for Special Olympics Wyoming. “Glenrock made sure we had everything we needed. We had plenty of volunteers. It went just as well as we could have imagined.”

If timing works out, Lang and Special Olympics Wyoming are hopeful to make the return next year and Douglas athletes may once again have an easy drive up the road for the local Area V Summer Games.

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