Amanda Schleppe shows the form that won her a gold medal at the Special Olympics Summer Games in Nova Scotia last weekend. Mark Brett/Western News

South Okanagan Special Olympians bring home precious metal

Fun and medals for local swimmers at national Special Olympics Summer Games.

South Okanagan swimmers brought home plenty of precious metal from their east coast foray last weekend.

In total, the five who did their training at the Penticton community centre pool raked in 16 medals at the 2018 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in Antigonish, N.S.

Based on her performance in the five events she competed in, Amanda Schleppe, 27, of Okanagan Falls has a good chance of making the Canadian swim team that will compete at the 2019 World Summer Games next March in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Amanda Schleppe (left) of Okanagan Falls and Penticton’s Tiffany Bjorndal with the medals they won in swimming at the 2018 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in Antigonish, N.S. Mark Brett/Western News

Schleppe medaled in all but one of her events, winning three gold in the 100-metre freestyle, 50M backstroke and 100-metre backstroke and a pair of bronze for 50M freestyle and 100M breaststroke.

She also finished fifth in the 50M breaststroke.

Schleppe has been swimming competitively for about six years and, in 2015, competed at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles. Calif.

“It was quite an amazing experience,” said Schleppe about her time in Nova Scotia, especially the thrill of receiving her medals. “On the podium, it feels kind of anxious-nervous but it’s a really good feeling. You’re so proud of yourself that you placed in a race against a lot of the best people, you’re pushing yourself to the limit.

“I was surprised at how well I did, especially something at a new and a different place.”

Her teammate Tiffany Bjorndal, 37, of Penticton, also won five medals, a gold in the 50M freestyle, silver in the 25M breaststroke, and bronze in 25M freestyle, 25M backstroke, and 50M breaststroke.

Related: Video: South Okanagan athletes compete at 2018 Canada Special Olympics Games

She had a fifth in the 50M backstroke.

This was her second trip to a national event, having competed previously as a member of the B.C. softball team.

“I was very happy, I didn’t expect that much, just personal bests, so it was nice,” said Bjorndal who grew up in Summerland.

“It was hard work, I was thinking swimmers are going to be tougher, and it’s going to be a bit harder and it was harder but with my training, I did my best and I came out with a good result.

“The Special Olympics helps me compete on a level with, I’m not going to say normal people, but with other people. In Special O everybody competes and everybody has fun. It just gives me lots and lots of confidence.”

Tiffany Bjorndal of Penticton won five medals at the Special Olympics summer nationals.
Mark Brett/Western News

Both swimmers also credited their coach Marlene Keen of Penticton, a longtime Special Olympics volunteer who worked with them in the months leading up to the games, for their success.

“Marlene prepared me really well,” said Schleppe. “My coach is an amazing coach and I would not be where I am today without her. I have to thank her all the time for how hard she pushes me.”

Bjorndal added: “She (Keen) just helped me so much and she kept me confident especially when I’m thinking it’s going to be so much harder.”

Although she was unable to go with her swimmers Keen was understandably happy with their results.

“Oh my goodness, they did so well, I texted them yesterday and told them how proud I was of them. They all texted me back thanking me and that made me feel really really good,” said Keen, in an interview earlier this week. “They all worked so hard to get to where they did.”

Other local swimmers included Kyle Sanderson of Oliver who medaled in two of his five events, scoring a silver in the 25M freestyle and a bronze in the 25M backstroke.

He also had a fourth in the 50M breaststroke and a pair of fifths in the 50M backstroke and the 50M freestyle.

New to Penticton, John Canning turned in a strong showing with a gold in the 25M freestyle and a silver in the 100M freestyle. He wound up fourth in the 50M freestyle.

Tolan Lloyd-Walters of Oliver picked up a pair of silver medals in the 25M backstroke and 25M freestyle. He added a fourth in the 50M backstroke and a sixth in the 50M freestyle.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


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