May 18, 2009

UCSB Swimmers `Coach' Special Olympians

May 18, 2009

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - For the last two years, the UC Santa Barbara men's and women's swimming teams have been spending Saturday afternoons at Los Baños Pool in Santa Barbara coaching and encouraging Special Olympians. The program is part of the Gauchos Give community outreach initiative.

On May 8, four UCSB swimmers conducted the final session of the year. Katy Freeman, Sara Nicponski, Scott Vogelgesang, and Ethan Bradley put the Special Olympic swimmers through their paces. According to head swimming coach Gregg Wilson, the Gaucho swimmers do more encouraging than coaching, but Freeman was an exception.

"In Katy's case, she was really coaching," Wilson said. "She actually got down on the deck and was really getting into it, demonstrating strokes."

Wilson said that he traditionally selects four different swimmers for each session and that they spend almost an hour and a half instructing, demonstrating and encouraging.

"They (the swimmers) really enjoy it once they are actually taking part," he said. "Katy (Freeman) has done it each year and has really had a great time. The Special Olympians are really special, and our swimmers figure that out when they participate."