Michael Phelps wowed the world again winning six medals in the FINA World Swimming Championships in Shanghai this past week. But the Phelps “wow” factor did not stop after winning his final medal. On Monday, he joined the Special Olympics Movement as Global Ambassador, committing to raise awareness and change attitudes toward people with intellectual disabilities who struggle to be accepted, heard, and included in society.
Phelps kicked off this partnership by hosting a swimming clinic with Special Olympics athletes in Shanghai where he demonstrated swimming fundamentals and then participated in an exciting relay race with the athletes. As part of Phelps’ role as Global Ambassador, he has expanded his foundation’s signature IM program through an international pilot program with Special Olympics that is bringing water safety, recreational aquatic activities, and health, wellness and goal-setting instruction to Special Olympic athletes across six continents. Currently, the IM program is being piloted in Special Olympics programs in China, Australia, India, Brazil, Great Britain, South Africa and the United States.
The IM program has had great success in Great Britain. Many Special Olympics Great Britain swimmers’ received medals for achieving the goals that were set for them, which generated enthusiasm and interest in not only swimming but nutrition, healthy living, exercise and athlete well-being. In order to encourage and keep track of achievements in the IM program and their individual development as swimmers, a chart is displayed on the wall at the pool keeping track of the goals set and achieved for the Special Olympics athletes. Eileen Ramsey, coach of Special Olympics Great Britain swimming program said about the chart, “This was a brilliant way of viewing how athletes have progressed within Special Olympics and an inspiration for the new swimmers at my swimming club.”
The IM program has been hugely successful in the countries it is being piloted and been instrumental in helping Special Olympics athletes who have participated develop their skills and work toward achieving their personal best.
Thank you Michael for your joining our Movement, supporting the Dignity Revolution, and sharing your talents with our athletes!