David Sorensen and Brianne Melton, both of Carson City, will compete in Ames, Iowa, in the first-ever Special Olympics National Games held Sunday through July 7.
Brianne, 18, attends Carson High School, and has been swimming about six years.
"I like swimming because it's not like any other sport," she said. "It's more soothing and relaxing."
Brianne will be competing in freestyle, backstroke and the 4-by-50 relay.
"I'm excited and also kinda nervous."
Five years ago David Sorensen couldn't swim.
Sorensen, a 1992 graduate of Fernley High School, competed in the 2002 and 2003 Nevada State Games for Special Olympics in the 25-meter freestyle and won a gold medal each year. In 2004 and 2005 he won gold in the 50-meter freestyle and 50-meter backstroke.
"It felt great (to win gold medals)," Sorensen said. "It's a great accomplishment knowing you can do things with a disability.
"When you put your mind to it, you can do anything you want."
Sorensen has scoliosis, an curvature of the spine. He has two metal rods and 16 metal hooks in his back.
Sorensen and Melton train together at the Carson City Aquatic Complex.
"We go once a week for about an hour and a half," he said.
There are 28 athletes and 10 coaches from Nevada going to Iowa. This is the first time the United States has hosted a national game. Plans are for the games to become a biannual event. Athletes will not qualify for the world games, it is simply an additional opportunity for competition.
"I think we both have a very good chance (of winning)," Sorensen said.
"We've had wonderful coaches. They've trained us very well."
Dave Miller is their swimming coach at the aquatic complex; Kim and Mike Shepherd trained them for relay competition.
Joan Wilkerson has been the Special Olympics training director for the Carson City area for nine years.
"It's a really a neat thing they are going," Wilkerson said. "The selection process is very random. After the state games, their names go into a hat and are drawn out for national games. It's an exciting thing."
For information on the games, visit www.2006nationalgames.org. Athletes will compete in aquatics, athletics, bocce, bowling, golf and gymnastics.
• Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1223.
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