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Shelley Blair

A love of water, swimming and working with children is what keeps Shelley Blair going as she strives to support her swimmers to be the best they can.

Shelley, who will be attending the Special Olympics World Summer Games 2015 as Additional support for aquatics, has been teaching children and adults to swim for 10 years.

“I felt there was a great need to work with children on a 1:1 basis to teach them to swim – there didn’t seem to be anyone offering this. I studied, qualified and went out on my own. I was also working at Patricia Avenue Special School, that was my first involvement with Special Olympics at a Secondary School level until Special Olympics Te Awamutu was formed in 2008.”
Shelley is the Head Coach for aquatics at Special Olympics Te Awamutu and teaches or coaches swimming six days a week so life is busy.

“I believe it is important that our athletes set goals for themselves every year. My goal for all of our athletes for the upcoming Games is to challenge them to be the best they can be.”

This is the first time Shelley will be attending the Games, and she is very excited about seeing the athletes realise their goals.

“Our club wanted to nominate me for the Games, so I saw this as an opportunity to get involved at a national level. Athletes demonstrate what can be achieved with encouragement and with people who believe in them.

“The Games are important as they showcase to New Zealanders that people with an intellectual disability can also compete at an international level.”

She has experienced numerous highlights during her time with Special Olympics, citing many funny instances.

“Our oldest swimmer is 51 and she lost her false teeth in the pool – there weren’t too many who were keen to fish them out. She leaves them at home now!”

While there is much laughter, the determined courage of some of her swimmers continues to amaze Shelley.

“I have a young lady who has spina bifida . She approached me to teach her to swim. Her mother and I hugged each other and shed tears when she competed in her first event – she swam 25 and 50 metre freestyle, as well as 25 metre backstroke.”
What I love about New Zealand Special Olympics:

Is that it teaches us the importance of laughter!


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