Young star swimmer Andrew Smilley making community proud

Andrew Smilley honoured by the Proud of Them initiative for his contribution to sports

For years, 23-year-old-Andrew Smilley has set the bar high for all athletes in the Cayman Islands, and in particular swimmers.

Andrew, who trains six to eight times a week, won the gold medal in the first 1,500-metre open water swim in Athens, Greece during the Special Olympics in 2011. He has also won a silver medal in an open water swim in Costa Rica this past September, and two gold medals in the 1,500-metre race in Jamaica.

Encouraging others to follow in his footsteps, Andrew’s advice is “Train, train, train. Swimming, like all sports, has its ups and downs. Most importantly, don’t quit.”

Accomplishments aside, Andrew is also admired for his kind spirit. He gives back to the Special Olympics organisation as a board member, and an athlete/coach for other competing athletes.

In addition, Special Olympics coach Penny McDowell says, “Andrew is the picture of perseverance and a positive attitude. He continues to inspire all athletes to compete at a high level, no matter what their disabilities or circumstances.”

Currently employed as a retail assistant at Red Sail Sports, Andrew is proud to represent the Cayman Islands during international competitions and is very excited to be recognised for his achievements.

He expresses special thanks to the coaches and board members of the Cayman Islands Special Olympics, as well as members of the Stingray Swim Club for being very supportive over the years. His foster mother for the past 15 years, Anne Haven, has also played a major role in Andrew’s life.

Describing his future plans, Andrew looks forward to the 2014 Special Olympics World Games for open water swimming. He has also been invited to both the Bahamas and Uruguay for swimming this fall.

Editor’s note: The Proud of Them initiative recognises the positive achievements of young people aged between 10 and 25 years. Through a public nomination process, individuals are honoured in the categories of academics, careers, business, sports, culture or community service. Each person selected will be featured for six months at a time on billboards established across the Cayman Islands, and will also receive a certificate. It is hoped that this recognition programme will encourage young people to continue to strive for higher attainment, while at the same time inspiring others to do the same.

Andrew, who trains six to eight times a week, won the gold medal in the first 1,500-metre open water swim in Athens, Greece during the Special Olympics in 2011.