ANGLETON — Fourteen Angleton High School swimmers will head to a meet at the Don Cook Natatorium in Sugar Land this morning, and what they bring home could be more valuable than ribbons and medals.
The high schoolers are volunteering at the Special Olympics Gulf Coast area aquatics competition, keeping time for races and helping special needs athletes in events that allow assistance. It is an opportunity the Wildcats jumped at as word of the need for volunteers spread.
“I have a family friend who is special and for me, it just means a lot to go and help out as best I can,” swimmer Shelby Schober said. “I just want to cheer them on and just hope these athletes accomplish their goals. I am really hoping that I get some time to just watch them swim.”
Many of the events in which special needs swimmers will compete are the same as any other aquatics meet, though some allow devices such as kickboards to aid the athletes. The desire to achieve is the same, too, said Angleton High swim parent Jo Fojtik.
“What I want our kids to see is that these are the same kids doing the same sport and working just as hard as they are,” Fojtik said.
Fojtik and Jenny Andrews will work as officials at the meet and heard organizers needed volunteers.
“So my mom and another swimming mom, they are officials for meets in the area and they signed up for this meet, and they told us that they needed some volunteers,” Angleton junior Fynn Andrews said. “I talked to the team and got some volunteers to help go time and work on the deck.”
Fynn Andrews’ recruits include Ladycat swimmer Kyla Lindsey.
“You really just want to help volunteer to help others, and since this was a swim meet it is something that we can relate to,” Lindsey said. “I like the fact that I get to help others with the sport that I love.”
It will be a valuable experience for the teenagers, Jenny Andrews said.
“One of the neat things for our kids is that they will be able to be timers, but these swimmers will actually have fans in the stands,” she said. “There will be volunteers who come and cheer on the swimmers. Also, some of these volunteers will get an opportunity to get in the water with these swimmers to help them swim. So our swimmers will get to see a lot of different aspects of this swim meet.”
Just a sophomore, Lindsey swims the butterfly races along with the 200-meter individual medley and the 500 freestyle.
“I am really excited for the energy that will be surrounding that place,” Lindsey said. “I think it’s going to be exciting in many ways.”