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Special Olympics swim meet draws competitors from region to Decatur

Mar. 23—Megan Crow won a tight race in the pool Friday at the Special Olympics regional meet in Decatur, but she also emerged a philosophical winner.

"It's not always about winning, it's about having fun and doing this with your friends," she said.

Crow was one of the dozens of Special Olympians who competed in the Regional Special Olympics Swim Meet on Friday at Aquadome Recreation Center.

The top three place-winners will go on to the state Special Olympics meet May 17-19 at Troy State University, said retired program director Kellie Sims, who came back this year as a volunteer. Special Olympics provides sports training and competition to children and adults worldwide with intellectual disabilities.

At the state competition, the Morgan County team will field players in swimming, bowling and golfing events, Sims said. Medals will be awarded to those who place first through third, just like the four-year Olympics.

Sunshine peeped through the see-through dome of the rec center Friday as the Special Olympians chopped and sliced their way through lap after lap of competitive swimming. Participants came from Morgan, Etowah, Coffee, Dale, Colbert, Lauderdale, Talladega, Shelby, Jefferson, Baldwin, Cullman and Madison counties.

Some swimmers on the Morgan County team were confident.

"My coach (Paige Dobbins) said I swim like a mermaid," declared 40-year-old Miranda Harris, an orange-suited participant who had just emerged from the pool.

Some swimmers were frank.

"I did good but it about wore me out," said Shannon Robinson, 38, after winning a four-lap race that included freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly. She was more excited about the ribbon ceremony and pizza party coming up in a week than the races she won Friday. "I worked hard and I deserve a pizza," she said.

Some swimmers felt something was missing.

Lane Barnes, 52, thought he did a good job by placing in the freestyle and breaststroke, but the competition left him a bit tired and missing home.

"I wish my little dog Ace could be here," he said.

Barnes is a veteran participant who started swimming when he was 13 and attended the international games at Notre Dame University when he was only 14, said his mother, Carol Taylor.

When asked what it was like in the seconds before the buzzer sounded to start a race, Crow said she has learned to take it all in stride.

"I've learned to get over the nerves and just have fun," she said.