Andrew Smiley’s swimming is deservedly still basking in his latest success.
Smiley, 19, received international recognition when his performance at the RCP Tiburon Mile Swim in San Francisco Bay in September was named the Greatest Open Water Swim of 2009.
Cayman’s most famous Special Olympics athlete received the accolade after winning www.thewaterisopen.com�s online poll.
The honour is given to the person considered to best embody the spirit of open water swimming; represent the adventure, tenacity and perseverance for which open water swimmers are known; and have most positively influenced the world of open water swimming in 2009.
But Smilley remains humble and unfazed by all the attention. Instead, he is preparing for his next big event: the Latin-American Special Olympic Games in Puerto Rico next month.
Smilley started competitive swimming at eight. He trains two hours a day, every weekday, getting up at 5am to catch a ride with his coach, Penny McDowall.
‘His dedication is phenomenal,’ says McDowall, proudly. She herself has received an accolade, when she became one of only 40 coaches to get the Special Olympics’ Exemplary Coach Award.
‘Worldwide, there are more than 250,000 Special Olympics coaches. And so for Penny to win this international award is really something we cherish,’ explained Special Olympics Cayman Islands Board Director Maxine Everson.
Although Smilley is mostly known for his swimming success, he also plays basketball and football. The former Lighthouse School student is also holding down a full-time job with Red Sail Sports, and represents the athletes on the Special Olympics Board of Directors.
‘Andrew is an exceptional person and proves that where there is a will, there are no boundaries,’ said Sports Minister, Mark Scotland.
‘As an athlete, his hard work, dedication and perseverance have deservedly earned him my respect, and I applaud him for being a positive role model for our young people.’
He added: ‘However, I know it is a team effort, and I commend Coach McDowall and the Special Olympics Cayman Islands Committee for supporting Andrew throughout. This is truly a proud moment for the Cayman Islands.’
- For more on Andrew’s achievement, go to http://thewaterisopen.com/news/full/the_greatest_open_water_swims_of_2009_-_led_by_andrew_smilley_and_the_camlo