TRURO, N.S. – Matt Hunter will be spending a lot of time in the water this summer.
The Truro man will be competing in Special Olympics, the Down syndrome world swimming championship and the senior provincial championship.
“He’s very intense and focused,” said Matt’s coach Miranda Elliott. “He’s here because he loves the sport and he loves to train. He’s a natural water person and athlete.
“Like anybody, we have our ups and downs, but at the end of the day it’s a beneficial relationship for both of us.”
Being in water is nothing new for Matt, who just turned 30. He grew up on a property in Lower Truro that had a large pond, and his mother decided he needed to be able to swim in order to be safe.
“He took Red Cross lessons at Centennial Pool, and then he got stuck because he couldn’t do a stride jump,” said his mother, Maura. “He was getting frustrated. Then somebody at the desk suggested Special Olympics.”
Matt loved taking part in Special Olympics, but he also decided to join the Centurions. It didn’t take long before he wanted to go to competitions, and he’s been swimming Masters for the last couple of years.
Matt has travelled to Italy, Greece, Mexico, British Columbia and California to compete, bringing home several medals.
“Some places had outdoor pools,” he said. “It was different and I liked it.
“I swam Halifax Harbour. It was damp.” The harbour swim was a United Way event that took place in September 2017.
Matt does seven swims and three fitness courses each week, and works part time at both the Holiday Inn and Cineplex Cinemas. He has competed in cross-country skiing, enjoys biking, and took part in his first mini triathlon last year.
When asked if he rests, he simply says, “No.”
Miranda feels he fits well into the Centurions.
“Matt may be different in some ways, but he’s not different in the pool,” she said. “He’s part of the team and it’s exciting for the whole team when he competes in major events.”
Several Centurions volunteer with Special Olympics.
“It’s a wonderful partnership,” said Maura, who is a Special Olympics swim coach. “It’s a wonderful model of integration through sport.
“The opportunities available through Special Olympics, in all sports, are tremendous. There’s a real community there, with acceptability, encouragement and support beyond sport.”
Anyone interested in getting involved in Special Olympics can email Maura at firstname.lastname@example.org