USA Artistic Swimming Takes a Huge Step Forward in AWD Inclusion
by Alyssa Jacobs, USA Artistic Swimming
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -This Saturday marks the beginning of the long-awaited 2021 U.S. Junior Olympic Championship for artistic swimming. This event will be special for more reasons than just celebrating the return of in-person events. The event also marks a huge step forward in inclusion for USA Artistic Swimming as an organization. The 2021 Championship will be the first time athletes with disabilities are provided the opportunity to compete at an officially sanctioned national championship. The backdrop of the championship will be one of the most influential cities in U.S. sports – Colorado Springs—with The Air Force Academy Cadet Natatorium hosting the event with limited spectator capacity June 26 – July 3.
Swimming has long been a popular sport for athletes with both physical and cognitive disabilities due to the practical and therapeutic benefits. Artistic swimming provides these benefits and more, with the added layer of artistic expression, body awareness and flexibility. Organizations such as ‘Artistic Swimming for Athletes with Disabilities’ have launched with the goal of encouraging more programs across the country to include this division and with the long-term goal of including the sport in the Paralympics. Athletes have had the opportunity to compete locally this season and the artistic swimming community has embraced these athletes and cheered them on to inspirational performances.
The Junior Olympic Championship is the largest national event hosted by our national governing body annually, attracting around 1,000 participants from across the nation in a typical year that qualify through regional competitions. This year, 15 athletes from coast to coast will gather on June 27th to be a part of the inaugural Junior Olympic Championship Athletes with Disabilities division.