Caitlyn Pike sat calmly on the bleachers as she waited for the other swimmers to arrive at the Douglas High School pool early in the evening on April 30. She wore a bright pink T-shirt designed by one of her teammates, swimmer-cartoonist Trevor Deming.
“I’m not nervous,” she said, adding that she was looking forward to swimming the freestyle, her favorite event.
Deming, meanwhile, paced back and forth listening to music on his headphones – a Disney DDR playlist – as he tried to get into the right mental zone.
A few minutes later, the seven members of the Douglas Special Olympics Wyoming swimming crew were in the water, competing for gold, silver and bronze in six different events: the 25-yard freestyle, backstroke, butterfly, 50-yard freestyle, diving and 25-yard relay.
It was the culminating event of the year for the team, whose members have been practicing together and preparing for the past month.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, many of the Special Olympics Wyoming events have been held “virtually,” meaning that the teams have competed on their own and sent in their scores electronically to the state judges.
By the end of last week’s competition, there were plenty of medals to go around.
Dalton Ferris took home the gold in the 25 and 50 freestyle.
Enrique Rafael earned gold in the 25 freestyle, 25 butterfly, 25 backstroke, relay and diving.
Jacob Nendza, Ashley Nendza and Luis Rafael each earned gold in the relay.
Caitlyn Pike earned silver in the 25 freestyle, 25 backstroke and 50 freestyle.
And, Trevor Deming won silver in the 25 freestyle and bronze in the 50 freestyle.
“I am proud of how well the kids did,” said head coach Melissa Deming, “especially considering that they are used to a much larger event and more time in between their swimming events.”
Because there were no other competing teams in their Area 5 division, the medals earned last week by the Douglas swimmers were earned on the basis of their performance against each other.
It will be another few weeks before the remaining scores across the state are tallied and the overall state medals are determined.
But even though they weren’t competing against other schools’ swimmers in person, the energy in the Douglas pool was no less lively.
“Everything is awesome. I can’t pick a single favorite event,” said Dalton Ferris, before heading into the final relay event.
Others simply had fun with it, enjoying their last time in the water together as a team, even cracking jokes after finishing their races.
“My speed is 214 miles per hour!” yelled Jacob Nendza, after finishing his freestyle swim.
Ultimately, the swimmers were happy with how they placed.
“I feel good, I’m happy,” Pike said after she finished her events.
“The 50 freestyle was my best.”