MUSCATINE, Iowa—As a community with many top tier swim programs, Muscatine provided the perfect location for the region’s 2020 Special Olympics district swim meet Feb. 29. The meet proved exciting for athletes from Muscatine and the surrounding area and an outstanding opportunity for the community to come together and support Special Olympics Muscatine.
This year, Jocelyn Paxton, Aquatics Director at the Muscatine Community Y, helped run the meet with the assistance of the Manta Ray swim program. Special Olympics Muscatine Director Jason Miller reported, “Manta Ray athletes and parents did a fantastic job starting and timing.” He added that overall, the meet had, “a great turn out of volunteers and supporters of our program.”
Over the years, both the Manta Ray and the Muscatine High School swim team have shown tremendous support for Muscatine Special Olympics: “Several of our Special Olympics athletes have swam for the Manta Rays and the high school. Now we have them, and there is not much work we have to do with them because they’ve received great instruction up to this point,” stated Miller. The Manta Rays providing so many volunteers represented just one more way they continue to offer support.
Having many volunteers proved vital. 18 Muscatine swimmers and between 70-80 swimmers from eight other teams from Burlington, Clinton, Dubuque, Long Grove, Pleasant Valley, and Scott County competed.
Special Olympics Muscatine athletes enjoyed great success at the district swim meet. 16 swimmers received blue ribbons for placing first in their event, as did both the mens and womens relay teams. Every athlete who earned a blue ribbon will have the opportunity to compete, and possibly medal, at the State Summer Games, which will take place in Ames from May 21-23.
Miller felt very impressed by the effort all of Muscatine’s athletes put in. “They put in the work at practice and it shows at the meet,” he said. “We got a lot of first places, but even those who finished with second and third worked hard and looked strong.”
A challenging sport, Miller emphasized that getting to the top of their game took a lot of effort on the part of his athletes. “I want to stress that this is not an easy sport. A lot of strength, conditioning, and skills’ awareness goes into swimming. Hands down, this sport works you harder than all of our other sports.”
While Special Olympics Muscatine’s swimmers will not compete again until the State Summer games, their power lifters, team basketball players, basketball skills, and power-lifting athletes look forward to competing in the Mid-Winter Tournament. Scheduled for March 14, Miller encourages anyone interested in supporting Muscatine’s athletes on the road to come watch them compete in Iowa City.