Lucía de los Ángeles Flores and Braian Igarzabal Sarmiento can already be pioneers in Cordoba sport. They are the first swimmers from the province that the Argentine Sports Federation for Athletes with Down Syndrome (FADASD) called to be part of the national team.
Both started 2023 training three nights at Club Barrio Parque and two mornings at Kempes Stadium, since the great challenge is practically just around the corner: together with 17 other athletes, they will compete from March 19 to 24 in the American Tri-21, which will take place in the pool of the National Center for High Performance Sports, in the City of Buenos Aires.
Representatives of Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, Mexico, Albania and Portugal will also participate in the contest, which will take place to coincide with World Down Syndrome Day (March 21). Previously, in February, the members of the albiceleste team will compete in the adapted swimming FADESIR Open, which will also be held at Cenard.
Lucía is 25 years old and divides her activities between swimming, painting, language and math support classes and preparing for her job placement at the APADIM Córdoba Guidance Center. Braian is 24 years old and since he was little he has shown his passion for the pool “with incredible skill”, according to the references. He works in a bar in Alta Córdoba, where, they also comment, she has “all the best vibes” to be able to accommodate her schedules to training, travel and competitions.
“They are great, some characters,” says María Morales, the former swimmer and Physical Education “teacher” who has been training them for five years at CEMAI-Barrio Parque. The teacher says that she has known Lucía and Braian since their first years of schooling, since she also teaches at APADIM, and that she is “impacted” by the dedication and enthusiasm that they show every day in the practice of a “very demanding and very sacrificed.”
SOME CHARACTERS. This is how Professor María Morales defines the newly selected, who highlights the enthusiasm and progress of the swimmers trained at CEMAI-Barrio Parque. /// PHOTO: FINO PIZARRO“
“They accepted it with great pleasure, and that after achieving the required marks to enter the Argentine team we had to add a gym routine and a strict diet,” he emphasizes. And he highlights the support of families as another fundamental pillar.
When it comes to details, he points out that the two brand new selected specialize in speed tests: “Lucía competes in the 50m and 100m backstroke and 50m and 100m freestyle; and Braian does it in the 50m butterfly, 100m backstroke, 50m and 100m freestyle and now we are also preparing him for the 200m medley”.
“It’s not just swimming”
“I started on my own, renting swimming pools and paying teachers,” Morales points out when talking about CEMAI (Club in Inclusive Adapted Movement), the project he devised 15 years ago with the purpose of integrating people with intellectual disabilities into sport. “I am convinced that everything can be achieved, but with time and work. In the case of people with disabilities, the support and pedagogical approach are basic, because it is necessary to appeal to multiple stimuli ”, he points out.
“In the end we got caught up with the project and here we are”, comments María about CEMAI, which currently has 45 athletes (including children, youth and adults with different disabilities) and a staff of six teachers. “Today we are participating in the local, national and international tournaments of the different federations that summon us”, she points out. The activities are repeated between Barrio Parque and General Paz Juniors. “In both clubs we have absolute support,” she points out.
“This is not just swimming. It is a better quality of life, it is enjoying, it is sharing, it is generating a sense of belonging, it is acquiring values. It is really a task of inclusion ”, emphasizes“ ”the Professor” when talking about the work she does with her students. And she highlights the value of the interaction between sport and disability.
“It is essential that these people do physical activity from a young age, something that unfortunately is rarely observed. Not only the ones full of life, but in the case of Down syndrome, it helps a lot to reduce different associated pathologies, such as thyroid, overweight or heart problems, ”he points out.
Finally, Morales highlights the importance that the American Tri-21 will have to “make visible” and “claim rights” in order to improve the inclusion of people with Down syndrome.
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