The aquatics squad that will be representing Britain at the European Summer Games were together for training in Leeds at the weekend.
With a squad of 11, the aquatics team forms the largest element of the GB delegation that will be competing alongside 2,000 athletes from across Europe in Antwerp this September. Special Olympics GB will be sending a delegation, consisting of 50 athletes - all with intellectual disabilities - along with 15 coaches and support staff, to the Games which take place every four years.
Ten of the swimmers took part in the training session at John Charles Centre for Sport in Leeds. The Special Olympics athletes are drawn from all over Britain:
• Kieran Neary (19), Scott Cleaver (22), Charles Culwick (19) (Essex),
• Dylan Thorburn (19), Anne-Marie Reid (27), Maria Orsi (26) (Tayside),
• Emma Birley (27) and Sam Pattinson (22) (Dumfries & Galloway),
• Jacqueline Minchin (37) (Cardiff Chameleons), and ,
• Natalie Moon (18) (Hull).
The Coaching Team is made up of Head Coach Janet Warrington (East Herts), Andrea Manson (Dumfries & Galloway) and Stuart Farmer (Tayside).
Janet Warrington said: "The team met for the first time last November but it already feels like we have known each other forever; the athletes look out for each other and get on really well. I am really impressed with their professional attitude that they are taking to their training. They all brought their training log books and are taking this competition very seriously."
For some of the athletes taking part in the competition means it will be their first time travelling abroad without their families, so developing a supportive team environment is critical.
Janet explained: “Having time over the training weekend to continue the process of team bonding and friendship building. The team will be travelling to Antwerp for a total of 14 days so it is important that everyone gets on and we all feel comfortable with each other."
The team maximised their time together to finalise event selection including the relay team, and choosing the kit which will be sponsored by Speedo.
The next time that the squad will be together will be in March for a training weekend with the full delegation for the European Summer Games. After March, the team will not get together until they meet up to travel to Belgium for the Games which begin on 9 September.