Today, Bowdoin will host the annual Southern Maine Special Olympics Swim Meet at LeRoy Greason Pool. Athletes from all over Southern Maine will compete in classic swimming events, such as freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly and relays, as well as less traditional events like assisted races and floating races.
Toby LaConte, an active member of the Special Olympics Community for the southern Maine area, organized the event along with Erin Morrissey ’19, the main student organizer at Bowdoin.
“There are athletes who get very into it and are very talented and who take it very seriously,” said Morrissey. “There are also events for athletes who just love being a part of it and are less intense about it but still very celebrated for their accomplishments, whether it’s floating or a very intense relay that are trying to compete against one another.”
The event stresses inclusivity for athletes of different levels. Some of the athletes are on teams, such as one run by the Bath YMCA, and their training culminates with this swim meet.
“If you’ve been to any swim meets, it’s very similar to that but they also make sure they include an event for everyone and anyone to be able to participate in,” she said.
In order to put on a successful meet, the organizers ask Bowdoin students to help run the event and around 60 to 100 students volunteer each year to support the meet. Morrissey believes this is an opportunity for Bowdoin student athletes to give back to the community.
“At any time, there are about 10 to 15 Bowdoin volunteers and they work in half hour shifts,” she said. “The student athletes know how lucky we are to participate in all of our sporting events. This is an amazing opportunity to give back to the community and support fellow athletes.”
Ultimately, Morrissey sees the main objective of the event as a way to bring the southern Maine community together to celebrate the wide array of athletes and achievements.
“I think it is a great way to be able to connect to the community and show that we appreciate everyone and people of all abilities and to celebrate people in a positive and uplifting environment,” Morrissey said. “It’s just another way to celebrate all athletes, all achievements, people from the Bowdoin community, Brunswick community and people from the southern Maine community as well.”
Although this event is the biggest one that Bowdoin hosts, it has also allowed Bowdoin, the Special Olympics and the local community to extend their partnership through other activities. There will also be a track and field clinic for Maine Special Olympics athletes on April 12.
“Generally this is the big event that we do partner with them,” Morrissey said. “Beyond that, there’s also snowshoeing and other fun events that are not actually associated with Bowdoin but the relationship definitely stems from the swim meet and the volunteers that get involved in that.”
The swim meet will take place from 9 a.m. to noon with a ribbon ceremony from noon to 1 p.m.