Jenn Houtby-Ferguson – Team BC
The water at Macdonald Island Park was golden for Special Olympics athlete Jesse Shade (Campbell River) at the 2015 Western Canada Summer Games. Five gold medals in the pool were just the beginning for the sixteen year old Vancouver Island swimmer.
Competing against swimmers eight to ten years his senior, Shade continues to demonstrate tremendous power in the pool. His times are comparable to ‘able bodied’ athletes. Shade also shaved four seconds off his personal best time in the 50m backstroke and two seconds off his personal best time in the 100m freestyle on Aug. 13. A day later, Shade was back in the water and a full eight seconds faster than his competition, finishing the 100m backstroke with a time of 1:06.26. Shade was five seconds off his personal best to claim the gold for Team BC. A second gold on Friday in the 50m freestyle in a time of 27:66 would bring Shade’s total to four for the Games. A fifth gold came Saturday in the 50m breaststroke at a time of 37.04.
“I really like to swim fast,” said Shade humbly about his own performance. “I trained with the winter club in Campbell River and it helped a lot.”
Shade is no stranger to multi-sport competition. In the last year, he has competed in the North American Indigenous Games in Regina and the 2014 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in Vancouver.
On Jul. 1 the Para and Special Olympic swimmers held, for the first time, a joint training camp in Victoria. Nutrition training with CSI Pacific Performance Dietician Ashley Armstrong (Victoria) and mental performance sessions with Danelle Kabush (Victoria) were features of the camp. Special Olympic swim coach Brianna Kowalski (Abbotsford) feels the camp was a significant contributor to the team’s success at the Western Canada Summer Games.
“It was a great atmosphere, (the camp) was a very positive and inclusive experience,” shared Kowalski. “Our athletes learned a lot and this was the first opportunity for our athletes to meet one another and the Team BC Mission staff.”
Shade is looking forward to celebrating his success with his team mates at the closing ceremonies on Sunday evening.
“I am excited to see the show” said Shade.
Affectionately called the O-Zone, there are three other Special Olympic athletes competing in Wood Buffalo; Kayla Willms (Coquitlam), David Dunn (Prince George) Paige Norton (Abbotsford).