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U.S. Paralympics Hosts Swimming Officials From Around the Americas

By Katie Branham | June 08, 2018, 11:59 a.m. (ET)

Participants from the 2018 Para Swimming Technical Education Summit volunteered at the Jimi Flowers Classic.

Every year the Jimi Flowers Classic relies on the help of dozens of volunteers to put on the swim meet that is held in honor of the late U.S. Paralympics resident team coach and national team manager. But this year’s ninth edition of the meet had a distinctively international crew of volunteers.

Holding stopwatches and clipboards behind the blocks, representatives from Aruba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Panama and Puerto Rico helped to keep the meet running smoothly.

More than just helpful volunteers, these individuals were completing their visit to Colorado Springs, Colorado, for the 2018 Para Swimming Technical Education Summit hosted by U.S. Paralympics. Seventeen representatives from the Americas region traveled to the Olympic Training Center for two days of courses and two days of practical application as they assisted at the Jimi Flowers Classic.

Annette Jimenez Collet, a coordinator with the Department of Recreation and Sports of Puerto Rico, was among the attendees who traveled to the summit. Puerto Rico recently sent their first two athletes to compete in swimming at the Paralympic Games in Rio.

“I am new to the Para swimming world,” said Jimenez Collet. “But after the technical official training, I have entered the Puerto Rican Para Swimming Federation as a contributing member. I am enthusiastic in collaborating to identify participation, education and competition opportunities for our Para swimming athletes.”

This is the first time U.S. Paralympics has hosted this event, and it came out of a grant received by the Agitos Foundation, the development arm of the International Paralympic Committee.

“We applied for the Agitos grant with the aim of increasing the number of trained national coaches and officials across the Americas,” said Julie Dussliere, vice president of U.S. Paralympics. “We believe that by increasing the number of opportunities for all athletes, that our own U.S. athletes will also benefit from increased competition from across the region.”

For the participants, it was not only the time spent in the classroom that left a lasting impression on them, but also their interactions with the athletes.

“I feel the responsibility to make my very best effort in promoting Para swimming,” Jimenez Collet said. “Just as Para swimming athletes showed me in the pool.”