Local athletes hard at work on Olympic dreams

Nothing compares to the feeling of cutting through water for Elliott Moskowy of Red Deer.

Nothing compares to the feeling of cutting through water for Elliott Moskowy of Red Deer.

“Ever since I was a young kid, I’ve enjoyed the feeling of swimming — it makes me feel lighter than air and that I can do anything and go anywhere real fast,” said Moskowy.

The 22-year-old swims four times a week at the Michener Aquatic Centre and is preparing for his first Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in Vancouver in July. He will be competing in six events from July 8 to 12.

Moskowy also went head to head with other Canadian swimmers last summer during the Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke, Que. His favourite stroke is freestyle and he said he believes deeply in the motto: it’s better to finish dead last than not at all.

He also works out with Ignite Fitness twice a week, lifting weights with fellow Special Olympian Mike Sugden, also of Red Deer.

“But it’s not always about the strength. It’s about your form. That’s the trick,” Moskowy said.

Nine Special Olympians from Red Deer have been selected to be a part of Team Alberta, made up of a total of 117 athletes from across the province.

The local team will compete in four areas: bowling, softball, swimming and track and field.

Those who do well will have the chance to go on to the international games in 2015 in Los Angeles.

“They’ve all earned the right to go,” said Jerry Tennant, chairman of Special Olympics Red Deer, a year-round program that helps 240 athletes stay involved in sport.

“They’re all very motivated; all team players. I look forward to them doing well. If they don’t come back with the medals, the important thing is just participation and doing your best.”

Graham Kryzanowski, 36, is from Red Deer but will be competing on the Edmonton softball team at the Games as they needed extra players. He said he’s noticed a change in attitudes over the years when it comes to Special Olympics.

“It’s better and keeps getting better,” said Kryzanowski, who first competed on the national Special Olympic platform when he was 16. This July will be his third national competition.

“I just love sports and the people you meet through it. … You do get nervous but you just push on,” said Kryzanowski, who is also a swimmer and golfer.

Sugden, 23, is an avid curler and track and field star. He will be competing in sprints, long jump and shot put in Vancouver this summer. It will be his fourth Canada Special Olympics over the past eight years.

“One thing I want to do is win the gold in track and make it to worlds. That’s the goal.”

For Moskowy, it’s not about wearing any medals around his neck.

“My primary objective is to make improvements and progress as an individual swimmer. Vancouver is the perfect opportunity to see how much I can improve in my skill, techniques and my times. That’s what I want.”

rfrancoeur@bprda.wpengine.com

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