Back in June Brian Perry of Frederica got the call of a lifetime.
The Special Olympics informed him that he would be representing the USA in the World Games in Berlin, Germany, this summer.
“We were shocked but also thrilled,” said his parents, Christine and Manny Perry. “It took us months to absorb that we were all going to Berlin.
“It was surreal. Words cannot describe how proud we are of Brian and his accomplishments.”
Brian qualified for the 50-meter freestyle Olympic finals.
The final heat is also known as the championship heat, which meant he was competing against the top qualifiers from around the world.
“Every day in Germany I wore the red, white, and blue Special Olympics USA uniforms, which made me very proud,” he said. “I got to bond with my swim team members and coaches for over two weeks and it was fun. We cheered each other on during swim events and celebrated each other’s successes.”
Swimming in the international 50-meter freestyle was a challenge.
“The competition was tougher than I have ever had,” Brian said. “These were world class swimmers, and I am very proud to have won the fifth-place medal. It was an amazing adventure that I’ll remember forever.”
Brian’s love for swimming started at a young age.
“My mom had me in the water at the YMCA when I was 6 weeks old to teach me to float and to love the water,” he said.
Perry’s swimming start
Christine and Manny Perry recalled that 43 years ago, a doctor told them Brian wouldn’t have the mental capacity to be very successful in life and that they should consider institutionalizing him.
“We raised him with two younger siblings and gave him all the opportunities available to him,” they said. “We believed having strong social skills and keeping Brian in the community would get Brian places and look at him now!”
Brian said meeting new people and making new friends is important to him.
He defied the odds and competed in many Special Olympic sports.
“I like swimming because I feel the water makes me free,” he said. “When I am with my swimming trainer, I learn the strokes better and I increase my stamina. I also love the muscles I developed and the weight I lost with all the training.”
Brian was happy with his finish, but he’s not done.
“Right now, I am taking a break from swim training but I will be back at the Y pool soon to be ready to swim for the Kent Wild Kats for the DE Special Olympics,” he said.
He would like to compete in the 2025 Special Olympics, which will be held in Canada, and wear red, white, and blue again for his country.
But the real goal is to bring home another medal, hopefully a gold one.
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