Determination pays off for Special Olympian

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Twenty-year-old swimmer Haidee McRae had a dream run at the regional Special Olympics competition in Dunedin at the weekend.
McRae also competed at a transtasman event the previous weekend in Hamilton.
McRae, of Ferndale, gained personal bests in both meets.
She picked up golds in both the 400m and 200m freestyle events at the regionals and won bronze in the 50m backstroke, fourth in the 100m freestyle and another gold for the 4×25 relay at the end of the day.
Two other Eastern Southland competitors went to the regionals in Dunedin, Dylan Elstob and Alison Speden picking up medals as well.
At the transtasman event, McRae competed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in several freestyle events and a relay.
In the 200m freestyle, she finished fourth, and in the 100m and 50m events, she finished fifth. She picked up a bronze medal in the relay.
McRae was one of eight who attended from Southland and the only one from Eastern Southland.
On Friday, she competed in the preliminary rounds before competing in finals on Saturday and Sunday, her mother Ruth McRae said.
Mrs McRae said her daughter had been working hard leading up to both events.
“She has been competing with mainstream swimmers for training during the year, which has made a big difference to her swimming,” Mrs McRae said.
McRae had managed to improve a lot every competition.
“She actually managed to get PBs [personal bests] during her prelim races on the Friday and then get more time off them in the finals the next day,” she said.
After McRae’s success at the transtasman and regional events, she has now qualified for the National Summer Games in Wellington in November next year.
“It is once every four years, so we will continue to train the same way next year with the Sharks Squad and competing with Hokonui Aquatics,” Mrs McRae said.
Sharks Squad coach Rhys Pryde-Wall was impressed by McRae.
“She has improved week by week, comp by comp.
“It comes from her determination at training, wanting to do extra trainings with targets in her mind,” Pryde-Wall said.
She had not missed a training session the whole term, and if she was away, she would make a point to reschedule, he said.