Guest Contributor: Jaycee Yegher
This is our second article highlighting a swimmer who inspires. Check out MaiMai’s story.
Michael was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. He began a year later with a sports organization called Sports Plus for kids with special needs. They said he would never speak. He said his first word at seven. He was speaking full sentences at nine. They said he would never be the amazing kid he is today. Yet he is. He continues to amaze and inspires all of us each and every day. Often his smile becomes our smiles.
Three years ago, Michael joined the Darnestown Demons swim team for the last two weeks of the season and received an honor at the banquet. Two years ago he got his freestyle and dive down and became a full fledged Demon. Last year, he swam B meets with standing ovations. This year, he swam freestyle in his first A meet and wow’d us all with his energy and, of course, his smile.
Darnestown swimming has been a massive confidence builder for Michael. He fights an enormous battle every day living in our neurotypical world and with seizures. Swimming is very therapeutic for him. He has found a supportive community in Darnestown, where he is comfortable and appreciated. As his sister Amanda puts it, “Michael feels a part of the Darnestown pool. There is no disconnect.” The attention he receives at the pool is much more personal compared to school she says. He looks forward to being with the Demons every May.
As much as the Darnestown Swim and Racquet Club has influenced Michael’s life, he has positively impacted the community around him as well. He has brought out the best in his teammates and himself through swimming. We at Darnestown have seen friendship, humility, and a community come together. We are lucky to have been a part of something greater than ourselves. We love and support Michael and are excited for his smile to return to the pool every year.
These stories of inspiration are what swimming is all about. Please email us your stories of inspiration – about a team, swimmer, coach or parent. Thanks Jaycee for telling us about Michael and sending us this article.
Jaycee is a rising Senior at Northwest High School, an amazing swimmer and even better person.