West Concord’s Rachel Wilmes takes a first in Special Olympics swimming
When Rachel Wilmes moved to Rochester in 2007 and was considering activities at the YMCA, she was torn between basketball and swimming. The problem, Rachel said, was that she was afraid of the water.
Her mother, Kathy, resolved the dilemma when she signed Rachel up for swimming. It was obviously a good decision.
Rachel recently stood atop the winners’ podium as she was awarded a gold medal in the 100-meter breaststroke at the Minnesota Special Olympics spring games at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.
She also won the bronze medal in the 50-meter breaststroke and received a ribbon in the 50-meter backstroke where she placed seventh. She also competed in a team relay event.
Going back to 2007, Rachel explained, “I was torn between basketball and swimming. But I was afraid of the water.”
“Mom signed me up for swimming at the YMCA,” she said.
She soon lost her fear of water and started competing in events held in the shallow end of the pool, she said. Her confidence growing, it didn’t take her long to make the transition to competitions in the deep end of the pool, she said.
“I’ve been competing since the spring of 2008,” she said.
She swims as part of the Rochester Flyers team and earned her way to the state spring games at the regional competition in February in Rochester.
The season is officially done for the year, Rachel said, but she will continue to practice with her Special Olympics coaches at the YMCA through the summer. Official practices will begin again in the fall.
The next National Special Olympics Games will be on a yet-to-be scheduled date in 2018 in Seattle.