The Observer

Student wins two gold medals at Paralympics

By Emilie Plesset, Online Opinions Editor

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As the timer counted down the remaining seconds in the Jimi Flowers Paralympic Meet at the Colorado Olympic Training Center this past June, sophomore Ben Ertman swam his fastest and won the gold medal in both the 150-meter individual medley and the 200-meter backstroke.

The Jimi Flowers Classic is a two-day swimming competition in which disabled swimmers from all over the world participate in numerous swimming events. Ben, who has mild cerebral palsy, participated in 10 events.

“I was really nervous and I didn’t really know what to expect,” Ertman said. “It was my first time in this kind of meet. I didn’t know anybody, but you kind of meet people.”

According to Ertman, after the swimming events in each person’s numbered category, the swimmers raced against people in other categories based on their times.

Ertman spent last school year training and preparing for the meet.

“I’d been training all year starting in September, but I really got down to business in April,” Ertman said.

Because the meet was located in Colorado, which has a higher altitude than Maryland, Ertman had to use special training techniques to help him prepare.

“I practiced breathing in a snorkel type thing so that I had less oxygen,” Ertman said. “So when I changed altitudes, it wasn’t that bad.”

According to Ertman, despite the different swimming environment, he was able to set 10 best times and three second and two third places in addition to winning his two gold medals.

“I’m very proud of him,” Ertman’s mother, Carlie Wells said. “He worked really hard and he was in a new environment. He managed to rise to the occasion.”

Ertman started swimming at the age of 2 in the swim club near his house.  According to Wells, Ertman has always wanted to swim and never had to be pushed.

Ertman trains five days a week for an hour-and-a-half to two hours with his swim team.

“He’s a hard worker and he’s always been very dedicated to whatever he does, and whatever he does he’s going to do it well,” Wells said.

Ertman hopes to continue swimming competitively and possibly even swim in the Rio Paralympics in 2016.

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Student wins two gold medals at Paralympics