Special Olympics swimmer Jess Hansen is in Nova Scotia this week representing Terrace on Team BC’s swim team with 49 other swimmers.
Hansen, 40, has been swimming since he was 18 and has been a Special Olympics athlete for more than 20 years. He’s competing at the national Special Olympics in Antigonish which begins Wednesday and ends August 4. Hansen is swimming every day of the Special Olympics and while he feels nervous, he said he’s ready for the competition.
“I’m ready to do my best,” Hansen said over the phone.
Team BC is made up of 174 athletes with intellectual disabilities, 54 coaches and 16 mission staff members representing 38 B.C. communities.
Hansen competed in regionals in 2016 and advanced to provincials in Kamloops last year. There, he qualified for nationals with one gold, one silver and two other top-five finishes.
Since January, he has been training in the pool at the Sandman Inn three times a week with an extra practice in Kitimat on the weekend to prepare for the national games, and told the Special Olympics he feels that the hard work is paying off.
“I feel pretty good and I’m starting to get in good shape,” Hansen said.
When The Terrace Standard caught up with Hansen and his swimming coach Ruth Caouette in March, Cauoette said Hansen’s success is largely due to his dedication.
“Just the length of time that he has spent swimming… his sense of commitment,” she said. “He shows up every week for practices… he’s always there.”
Hansen will be competing against other swimmers across Canada for Team BC, coached by Nikki Apps, in the 25-metre backstroke, 25-metre freestyle, 50-metre backstroke, and 50-metre freestyle.
And with support from his family, who have travelled out to see him swim, Hansen said he’s ready to compete on the national stage.
“It feels really good right now, it feels really good,” he said.
-with files from Jackie Lieuwen