New category at 2020 Ruby Swim edition

Last year’s event trialled the swim for people with intellectual disabilities— this year it is an official event category.

A new category has been created for the 2020 Ruby Swim for those with intellectual disabilities. The new category aims to give everybody a chance to have a go, whether they’re a natural fish or just like to paddle. 

The event, which will be held on January 25, involves a 100m course along the shore line to the official finishing chute, ensuring all participants leave with a trophy. 

Local Wānaka group, M!NT Charitable Trust, who aims to create brighter futures for those with additional needs, will be lending a helping hand and recruiting volunteers for 2020 to kick-start some awesome initiatives. 

“Last year, Eddie Spearing and Jaime Norman of Ruby Swim arranged a special event so that our kids, and others in the community, could participate. This year, The Ruby has gone further and has now created an official event for those with intellectual disabilities. We are trying to get the word out to the local community that this event is open —  we don't know of any other open water swimming event in the country which caters for those with intellectual disability. To put that into a global perspective, there is a 1,500m open water swimming event at the Special Olympics,” said Claire O’Connell, spokesperson from M!NT Charitable Trust. 

Spearing said creating the category was an obvious decision. “There was already a swim squad for these young people operating at the pool run by the parents and one of the lifeguards and it just evolved into the squad swimming in the open water lake. It was really an experiment at last year's event as much as anything. So this year, it's a full event just like any of the others. This year, one of the M!NT swimmers has entered the 600m event over to the island, with full individual support. He was really strong last year, emerging with a gleam in his eye and his parents think he can do the 600m swim this year, but we will make that decision on the day. No pressure.”


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