Alabama swimmer competes in Special Olympics

Published: Jul. 5, 2018 at 8:56 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 9, 2018 at 12:49 PM CDT
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SEATTLE (WSFA) - Gayle Nolin, a 53-year-old from Montgomery, is representing Alabama at the 2018 Special Olympic Games in Seattle.

Nolin is swimming three events in Seattle: the 200 meter breaststroke, the 200 meter individual medley (a race that combines all four swimming strokes) and the 4x25 meter freestyle relay.

According to her mother, Linda Turner, Nolin still improves her times and technique despite having Down syndrome and a pacemaker.

Although Nolin was disqualified in her 200 meter IM, she finished third in her division in the 200 meter breaststroke and her relay team finished at the top of their division.

"She never ceases to amaze me," Turner said. "I'm in awe of how well she swims."

Her mom recalled Nolin swimming from the age of 7. By 8, the minimum age to compete in the Special Olympics, she was already placing well in her events. Since then, she has only gotten faster.

With the support of her coach, Chris Powers, and her swim team, Nolin practices at least three times a week, swimming upwards of 1600 yards each practice. Every time she gets in the water, she works to drop her times and improve her technique to get faster for the next competition.

"She is the team's 'Wonder Woman,'" Powers said. "She loves to compete and she is the one challenging and coaching the other swimmers at practice."

Even when she had surgery and could not use her left arm for eight weeks, Nolin grabbed a kickboard and kept swimming, practicing her kicking until her doctor said she could swim with her full body again.

"Gayle always gives 100 percent," Powers said. "When I give hard sets, she says, 'Yep! Let's go Coach.

"Gayle took that winning attitude and went to the national Olympics and tried her best and came away with a silver medal," he added. "She is one of my best buds and I am thrilled she got this opportunity."

Her mom put it simply: "She is one fantastic young woman."

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