EPIC Assist’s own Down syndrome swimming champion, Harry Cahill, is preparing to leap off the blocks at the 2022 Special Olympics National Games in Launceston.
Harry has been a member of the Brisbane Special Olympics Club for the past ten years and was recently selected to compete at the National Games.
His love of swimming has taken him across the globe. During his time, he has represented Australia at international meets in Italy and Canada, as well as a number of state and national competitions.
“I have always liked swimming and took lessons, but I only got serious when I swam at my first competition,” said Harry.
“I am now training in preparation for the Special Olympics National Games, completing five swim sessions and two gym sessions per week.”
The Special Olympics National Games welcomes athletes with intellectual disabilities from across Australia to compete in a range of sports. Its mission is to open the door to inclusive competitions and offer people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to reach their sporting goals.
For Harry, the Special Olympics National Games is an exciting goal. The chance to reach for new personal bests and compete against his peers on a national stage makes all the long training sessions and groggy 5 AM wakeups worth it.
“To stand on the podium and know that you are the best in the state, country, or world, makes all of the training and listening to your coach worthwhile. It’s the best feeling,” said Harry.
He wants to share that feeling with other aspiring swimmers with disability to encourage them to push through the hard work.
For new swimmers making their first foray onto the podium, he’s got one important reminder:
“Don’t forget to thank your mum, dad, and teammates.”
Swimmer by day, kitchen hand by night
When Harry is not smashing personal bests and international qualifying times in the pool, he’s prepping up a storm in the kitchen.
After losing his job at a café during COVID-19, Harry connected with his local EPIC Assist.
EPIC Assist (EPIC) is a disability employment service that specialises in helping people with disability, like Harry, to prepare for, find, and keep a job they love.
When Harry got in touch, he was seeking a hand getting back on his feet. He needed a flexible job that worked around his busy swim schedule with an employer that understood his disability.
With the help of EPIC, Harry has now been working as a kitchen hand at Oh Boy Bok Choy for over six months and going strong. He helps with everything from food preparation to washing the dishes and putting the rubbish out.
“I like to be busy and helpful and work with people,” said Harry.
Harry says it’s EPIC’s individual support and commitment to finding the right job for him that’s made all the difference.
“They are good to work with and help you find a job that suits you—not just anything—and the support is always great,” said Harry.
If you, like Harry, have a disability and are looking for help finding a job you love, get in touch with EPIC Assist today.
If you would like to support Harry’s journey to the Special Olympics National Games in Launceston, you can donate to his fundraising page.
Image of Harry swimming sourced from Courier Mail