The Irish Down Syndrome Sporting Organisation (IDSSO) sent a team of 12 swimmers to the 9th World Down Syndrome Swimming Championships in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada.

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What is DSISO

Special Olympics Ireland is a sporting organisation for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.  Down Syndrome International Swimming Organisation (DSISO), DSISO provides opportunities to swim at a World Class level through its World Championships held every two years. A number of years ago it was realised that swimmers with Down Syndrome were being outclassed in competition by other people with learning disabilities who did not have the same physical disabilities that are often associated with Down Syndrome. For this reason, IDSSO was created.

The 9th World Down Syndrome Swimming Championships

We travelled on the 18th of July 2018 and competed against 24 countries.  I am currently the captain of the team, and I’m delighted to announce that team Ireland returned home on the 28th of July triumphantly with 5 gold, 3 Silver, and 10 Bronze heat medals and 36 Personal Bests. Eoghan Ashe our youngest swimmer secured two World silver medals in the finals.

I’m very proud of everyone on the team, well done team Ireland! I participated in the 400-metre front crawl, I came 2nd which is a silver medal in my heat in this event. In the 50-metre front crawl, I came 3rd which is bronze medal in my heat of this event. Travelling with IDSSO to competitions is a great opportunity to travel and to meet new people and compete against other fantastic swimmers in the world.

The accommodation was a university campus, the weather was incredible; every day was glorious. I found the whole experience enjoyable and found the competition to be very intense but also enjoyable at the same time. We had one day of sight-seeing which was nice, just to chill out with my team, to soak up the scenery and see some of the things for which Nova Scotia are famous. We went to an amazing Cheese Farm, and the Five Islands.

Lessons I’ve learnt from competing

I am now ready to train even harder, and try to get into doing long distance swimming, I hope to eventually to do the 800 metres, front crawl, and the 1500 metre front crawl.  I am aware that the standard is high, but my plan is aim for the stars.

My dream and ambition to become a World Champion swimmer, this ambition is the motivation that I need to keep me to achieve this goal, I know this is a huge goal to have. I am prepared to put in the hard work.

At the moment I am trying to have the right balance between my training, my working life and my personal life.  I am already thinking big, I am dreaming big, I believe in my ability with the help of my swim coach Greg Dalton.

The next World Championship will take place in Turkey in 2020. The International Organisation to which are affiliated are also being very proactive in its efforts to have swimmers with Down syndrome included in Paralympics.

My success in Canada has inspired me to push and challenge myself to train even harder to prepare for the International Down Syndrome Swimming Championships in Sardinia, Italy 2019. I believe that if you work hard, you can achieve anything that you want. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “I believe that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have”.

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