AUSTIN (KXAN) — Training with an Olympic gold medalist isn’t something folks at Marbridge ever thought they’d do. That all changed Monday.
Marbridge is a living community for people with intellectual disabilities.
University of Texas graduate and six-time Olympic medalist Brendan Hansen met with swimmers from the Marbridge Foundation’s Special Olympics team. They got a chance to train in an Olympic-sized pool for the first time ahead of next month’s Special Olympics regional in Bee Cave, Texas.
“It helps us with the distance to know how far we have to go to and from during the laps and everything,” said Marbridge resident Amy Lopez.
The team visited the Austin Aquatics and Sports Academy where Hansen serves as the General Manager of Aquatics and head coach of the Austin Swim Club.
“I can meet someone I can look up to and to be inspire by and admire,” Lopez said.
Hansen was impressed with how competitive the group from Marbridge was.
“I think this is a good opportunity for a lot of our younger kids to kind of see that same fire and drive out of these Special Olympians as you would anyone else,” Hansen said.
Billy McLemore is a long time Marbridge resident. He’s lived there for 50 years and has competed a lot in the water.
“I’ve got like nearly 300 medals and big trophies,” he said, proud of his swim team.
“Every time we do the relay in regional and Austin state we get first place,” McLemore said.
Monday’s meeting was a chance for Marbridge’s athletes to get qualifying times ahead of September’s meet.
Marbridge swim coach Shonda Corn was amazed at her team’s performance Monday. She was also awestruck by Hansen’s support.
“It just speaks volumes for the type of people that are willing to step up and help,” she said.