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Front Page » April 22, 2010 » Carbon County News » Olympic dreams
Published 1,648 days ago

Olympic dreams


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By KEVIN SCANNELL
Sun Advocate reporter

Lance Riches may have Down Syndrome but that isn't something that holds him back from working hard and accomplishing goals.

One of those goals is competing in the Special Olympics this summer.

Riches, 32, from Green River, comes to the Desert Wave Pool two times a week to practice for the upcoming USA Special Olympics National Games, July 17-24 in Nebraska.

Swimming has always been a favorite activity of his since he started doing it at the age of five.

"I didn't even know he could swim," said Carol Riches, Lance's mother. "He would be down at the bottom of the pool and all of a sudden he would come right up to the surface. It was a surprise to me."

Two days a week, usually on Mondays and Thursdays, Lance and Carol make the 65-mile trek to Price from Green River. Every now and then, Lance says that he isn't interested in getting in the car to drive to Price. All it takes to change his mind is the reminder of what lies ahead in July.

"Thinking of going to Nebraska really gets him motivated," Carol said. "He'll then say to me 'I'll go swimming.'"

Lance is training for the Special Olympics where he plans to compete in the 50 meter freestyle and the 50 meter backstroke. He is also a member of a relay team comprised of other Utah residents going to the Special Olympics. The week long event will be Lance's first time competing on a national level.

"The backstroke is my favorite," Lance said.

On the days he is not in Price swimming at the Desert Wave Pool, Lance practices at the Super 8 swimming pool in Green River. The pool at the motel is not an Olympic-size pool which makes his time training in Price that much more important, Carol said.

Lance usually spends an hour swimming in the pool working on his freestyle and backstrokes while adding a few laps here and there, swimming with fins and boards.

Kamra Davis, a swimming coach with the Desert Wave Pool, has been training with Lance since January. She has never worked with a person with special needs before but said all it takes it for Lance to pick things up is numerous repetitions.

"It's going really good so far and his technique is getting much better," said Davis.

With just a few months left before the event, Davis said she is looking forward to seeing Lance improve and continue to work hard toward his goal of competing at the Special Olympics.

"I'm just hoping he continues to train well, does good in Nebraska and I hope it's a positive experience for him," she stated.

To help Lance get to Nebraska, an account has been established at the Eastern Utah Community Credit Union in his name, Carol said.

As for the competition in Nebraska, Lance has one goal in mind.

"I want to go get a big trophy and a medal," he said.

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April 22, 2010
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