From staying in the Athletes' Village to travelling on the bus to the Pan Am Pool every day, Team BC's swimmers have enjoyed the inclusion of able-bodied, Para and Special Olympics swimmers at the 2017 Canada Summer Games.
BC's swim team includes 24 able-bodied, four Para and four Special Olympics athletes.
"I think it's just like an amazing experience because all these people are coming together in one swimming meet," said Jesse Shade (Campbell River), who won five gold medals in Winnipeg in Special Olympics races. "It's just amazing to see all the provinces with all the athletes all competing in the same pool."
On Thursday evening, Raben Dommann of North Vancouver was watching and cheering as Shade step onto the podium again. "That guy is amazing," said Dommann, who won eight medals including five golds. "I love it so much. I've never trained with Special Olympics or Para athletes before. It's really cool. Every time I watch them race, I get so pumped up, for my next race. It's incredible."
14-year-old Michael Schmidt (Victoria) said training with Para and Special Olympics athetes was a new experience. "At my home club we don't have any Para or Special O athletes," said Schmidt, who won three bronze medals in Winnipeg. "It's been really cool to merge with them and have them on the team and talk with them."
"A lot of the able-bodied swimmers have said it's amazing to see the Para swimmers because they don't train with them," said Aimee Brennan (Tsawwassen), won bronze in her 50m Para butterfly race. "It's inspirational and we're one big team."
"It's really inspiring to watch knowing we're all together in one place and winning for BC," concluded Arianna Hunsicker (Surrey) who is going home with five bronze medals from her Para races.
Team BC swimmers earned 52 medals at the Games.