Thursday, August 09, 2007

Golden strokes for visually impaired swimmer

Visually impaired swimmer Daniel Holt has blitzed his competition to win four gold medals at the International Blind Sports Federation World Youth and Student Championships in the United States.

In fact, the year 10 Long Bay College student won every race he competed in but was disqualified for a false start in the 50m freestyle.

The 14-year-old swimmer has had albinism since birth.

Vision problems in albinism result from abnormal development of the retina and abnormal patterns of nerve connections between the eyes and brain.

Daniel competes in the B3 category since he has partial or 6/60 sight. This means that what most people can see at 60 metres he has to be six metres away from to see.

He has been swimming most of his life but only decided to start swimming competitively six months ago.

Daniel trained hard for the event and set two New Zealand Paralympic records for the 50m and 100m backstroke.

In the 100m freestyle he romped home in 1.06.78 ahead of the second placed swimmer who finished in 1.13.26.

His excellent form continued in the 200m freestyle with a win in 2.30.96. The next best swimmer clocked 2.44.58.

Daniel beat all his previous personal best times at the games.

"I was pretty stoked," he says.

More than 250 athletes from 21 countries competed in the games which were held in Colorado Springs.

"The competition was quite tough because we were competing at altitude so the air was thinner," he says.

Daniel's long-term goals include competing in the 2012 Paralympics in London.


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