SEBRING — Special athletes from Highlands and Hardee counties made a big splash on Saturday by competing in the Special STARS Swim Meet at Sebring High School pool.
Approximately 50 athletes with disabilities, ranging from age 5 to 60, were swimming their hearts out for ribbons.
The more experienced swimmers did a 25-meters lap while the beginners did a noodle race. Noodle races are done in the shallow water so swimmers can build up confidence in the water and race toward a person holding the noodles.
Noodle racing was divided into two different lengths – one race was 15 meters and one was 25 meters.
This was the first year in the noodle race that two 5 year olds entered.
Dasan Jordon defeated Joshua Conner, both of Sebring, in the 15 meters by swimming in a time of 15.94. Both boys wore life vests since they are just learning to swim.
Adults using wheelchairs and walkers also got to participate in the swimming competition by wearing life vests. Herb Adkins, of Avon Park, won first place by going 32.02. Sebring residents Sandra Barney was second and Charlie Hodgkinson was third.
Others competing in the 15 meter race and placing first were Kenny Roberts, of Avon Park, Nicole Warner and Annie McHale, both of Sebring. Second place winners were Garrett Knowles, of Sebring, Cody Crouse and Minnie Sue Reid, both of Avon Park.
Third place ribbons went home with Sue Randolph and Edrei Lopez, both of Sebring, and Julie Kilbourne, of Wauchula. Fourth place winners were Jim Kentfield, of Avon Park, and Megan Eisnaugle, of Sebring.
The 25 meter long noodle race winners were Robert Lengyel, of Avon Park and Stephanie Travi, of Sebring, first; Sue Egnoski, of Wauchula, and Maria Rivera, of Sebring, second; and Tammie Fennell, of Sebring, third.
In the 25-meter lap competition, James Carroll, of Avon Park, pulled out the fastest time by going 21.13. He defeated Bill Sobsczak, who was second; Gwen Beavers was third; and Nicole Lewis was fourth. All are from Sebring.
Other first place winners in other heats were Jonathan Beavers, Elizabeth Jordon and Becky Anders, all of Sebring, and Tim Brown, of Avon Park. Second place winners were Tomona Swartz, of Bowling Green, James Beavers and Gerald Bass, both of Sebring, and Jack Garnett, of Wauchula. Third place winners were Jaime Brown and Ilana Levy, both of Sebring, Bill Wheeler, of Avon Park, and Cary McQuaig, of Ft. Meade. Fourth place winners were Ashlee Smith, of Wauchula, Rob Ward, of Avon Park, and Beth Horn and Eva Monk, both of Sebring.
After competing, the athletes enjoyed lunch and then received their awards.