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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Every stroke, kick and push gets these swimmers closer and closer to their goal.
Through CBS4’s Moving U campaign we met and an extraordinary man with a passion for swimming, 34-year-old Andy Miyares.
Andy was born with Down syndrome but his family never let his disability keep him out of the water; instead, it brought him in.
“He started when he was 9 months old to swim. He couldn’t keep his head up well, my family are all swimmers and athletic so I figured that would do it,” said his mother Ana Maria Miyares.
Andy’s mother was right. Swimming helped her youngest of five more than she ever imagined.
By the age of six, Andy was competing with USA Swimming.
At nine he joined the Special Olympics and today he is in the Hall of Fame, was honored at the ESPY’s, holds more than a dozen world records for special needs athletes, travels the world with the Special Olympics and has even met several presidents.
“Everybody says that I am a champion and I am still,” says Andy Miyares.
The tremendous role swimming has played in Andy’s life prompted his mother, along with two other moms, to create Baywatchers, a free swimming program at the Tamiami Pool for people with special needs.
“Down syndrome is gaining weight, low motor skills, low motor movements and not a lot of coordination. It all goes with it and swimming directs just that,” says Ana Maria Miyares.
Edgardo De Leon is one several coaches who does not let their disabilities get in the way, saying swimming will only make them stronger.
“This sport is especially for them. Mentally they are brilliant and physically they lose weight, feel better, eat better and they get discipline,” says De Leon, one or their many swimming coaches.
De Leon says that although not every one of these swimmers strives to be an Olympian, his goal is to make them all feel like champions, in and out of the water.
“My next step is to graduate them, maybe they can be lifeguards or swimming teachers for another child or adult with special needs,” he said. “Also make them independent. That is by objective, they need to be independent.”
In July, Andy will be competing in World of Down Syndrome, a swimming competition with athletes from all over the world. Andy will be representing Team USA.
Baywatchers meet every Saturday from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Tamiami Pool located at 11201 Southwest 24th Street.
It is a free swimming program for people of all ages with special needs.
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