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In The Company Of A Special Man

The Daily News of Open Water Swimming had the distinct honor to discuss open water swimming with Tim Shriver, the Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer of the Special Olympics, at the World Summer Games in Athens.

On Friday, Tim watched 35 Special Olympics athletes perform like champions in the 1.5K race in the Aegean Sea. He was as impressed as the hundreds of other supporters and fans who lined the coast of Marathon Bay.

In his speeches and his actions behind the scenes, open water swimming has an outstanding and visionary friend in Tim. In addition to overseeing the small number of 35 open water swimmers, Tim also serves 3.1 million Special Olympics athletes and their families in 175 countries. He has helped transform Special Olympics into a movement that focuses on respect, acceptance and inclusion for individuals with intellectual disabilities in all corners of the globe – and the addition of open water swimming is one specific embodiment of that philosophy.

After taking the helm at Special Olympics in 1996, Tim launched the Special Olympics’ most ambitious program which has led to the recruitment of more than 2 million new athletes around the world. He has worked with the leaders of China to initiate a thriving Special Olympics Program in their country, highlighted by their hosting the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai. He has also worked with world leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton, George Bush, Bertie Ahern, Rafiq Hariri, Thabo Mbeki, Julius Nyerere, Hosni Mubarak and Shimon Peres to advance the growth of the Special Olympics mission and vision while challenging nations to adopt more supportive and just policies. He has spearheaded programs in developing or war-torn countries such as Afghanistan, Bosnia Herzegovina and Iraq.

And he welcomed the opportunity to add open water swimming to the World Summer Games schedule once Jon-Paul St. Germain and Kester Edwards developed the roll-out plan for the sport among the Special Olympics global community. That plan, with his full support, is now in the hands of Kester, Bruckner Chase and Christine Wilson to expand globally.

He is a special friend indeed of the open water swimming community and understands how collaborative and inclusive the sport is.

Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source

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