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Jackson County Special Olympics Oregon Athlete Qualifies for U.S. Paralympic Team Trials

Jun 03, 2012 • Local Programs

For the first time since the 2000 Paralympics games individuals with intellectual disabilities will be included in the event. 

Sara Slawta, 19, of Talent, Ore., has qualified to swim in three events at the 2012 U.S. Paralympics Swimming Trials, to be held June 14 to 16 at Bismarck State College Aquatic and Wellness Center in Bismarck, N.D.  Members of the U.S. Paralympics Swimming Team who will compete at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London this summer will be selected at the Trials.

Sara, a former member of the Phoenix High School Swim Team, competed at the ninth annual GTAC Disability Open Meet on May 19 to 20 at the University of Cincinnati, Keating Natatorium.  More than 175 swimmers from 15 nations competed in preparation for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. 

Sara achieved qualifying times for the U.S Paralympic Trials in the 200m freestyle (2:58.45) the 100m breaststroke(1:53.04) and the 100m backstroke (1:41.66).  She was the top American finisher in all three events, swimming her personal best times in each event.  She also swam personal best times in the 200m individual medley, the 100m freestyle, and the 50m breaststroke, events not being contested in her competition category in the 2012 London Games. Sara, a Special Olympics Oregon champion, trains five days a week at the Southern Oregon University pool and the Ashland YMCA, and her major goal is to make the 2012 U.S. Paralympics Swim Team for the London Paralympic Games.

Sponsored by the Greater Toledo Athletic Club, the GTAC Open is a qualifying meet before the 2012 Paralympics in London.  Times posted here can be used to qualify for national teams or for the national Paralympic trials.

"This was Sara’s introduction to international competition, and she swam some really strong, smart races over the two days against some very tough, experienced competition," said Sara’s coach, John Weinbrecht. "She’s on track for some outstanding performances at the U.S. Paralympic Trials."

The GTAC meet was created to encourage swimmers with disabilities to compete in the Paralympic movement. Competition is very keen, and many swimmers who started out at the GTAC meet have gone on to join their countries' elite swimming ranks.  Athletes are classified based on their abilities. Doctors and trainers evaluate the athletes based on their range of motion and other factors to determine at which level they should compete.

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