The quartet of Jaleel Pierre, Nickolai Lalla, Shania Surujbally and Stefan Singh made history, when they became the first group of Special Olympians to compete in the Subway Maracas Open Water Classic at Maracas Bay, yesterday.
The quartet competed in the 1,000-metre 13-and-Over category in hot conditions at Maracas. Pierre was the first of the four to finish ending 41st overall in 24 minutes and 17 minutes (24:17), in a category that included over 60 participants. Lalla, 20, finished behind Pierre in 42nd position in 24:20. Surujbally, 18, was 53rd in 28:42 and Singh, 27, ended 56th in 30:36. After the race Singh said, “I feel good (about my performance). It was kind of calm but some of it was rough. Shania, Jaleel and Nickolai also took part in the race.”
Singh was familiar with the conditions at Maracas as he trained there leading up to the race. “Every Sunday I would swim from Maracas to Tyrico and come back.” Singh earned a silver medal at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games.
Stephen Telfer, swimming coach for Special Olympics Trinidad and Tobago said it was a historic day for his athletes. “I have four Special athletes participating at the Maracas Open Water Championships for the first time ever. This is historic because we always wanted to participate in an ASATT sponsored event.”
Telfer says there are now opportunities for Special athletes to compete on the world stage, as open water swimming is on the calender of the Special Olympics World Summer Games since 2011. “Since the 2011 Games, Special Olympics has had open water on their event calender. At the 2011 Summer Games and the 2015 Summer Games Special Olympics had open water (on the calender).
In 2015 one of our swimmers participated this is Mr Stefan Singh. He won a silver medal at that open water swim in LA.”