SPECIAL OLYMPICS — Karl from South Africa

Title: My son, Karl, Swimming Right along. Image top Karl exits the water and crosses finish line. Bottom-left: Karl and brother Marcus at Midmar Mile. Bottom-left: Karl walks with Marcus A child with Down syndrome, my son, Karl, was sickly. On a number of occasions our family was told that it was unlikely he would survive. He underwent numerous operations, including open-heart surgery. Then, at age 6, his health turned around, and he has not looked back since.

Now 27, Karl has a full-time job that he loves at a retirement home. He lives with his mom, Ria, and me, along with brother Marcus, 25, in a suburb of Durban, South Africa. Our daughter Lisa, 29, lives and works in the United Arab Emirates.

Karl is thrilled to have been selected to represent South Africa in the Special Olympics (SO) World Games in Los Angeles. He and I will travel there, where he intends to demonstrate that he has the skills to be ranked among the very best of the world’s swimmers! He also has a secret ambition to meet World Wrestling Entertainment star John Cena.

As a popular member of the Seagulls Swimming Club here in Durban, Karl trains five days a week, and has been voted the “swimmer’s swimmer” by club members for the past two years in a row. Representing our country in swim meets has taken him all over the world, including Ireland, Taipei and Portugal.

Top-left: Crowd of Spedial Olympics athletes Cheer. Top-right: Kart, his sister and brother sit under tree.. Bottom-left Karl enjoys himself at WWE. Bottom-right: Karl stands in field with his golden retriever.Five of South Africa’s National Olympic swimmers train at the club, including Chad Le Clos, who has become 

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one of Karl’s good friends. Their head coach, Graham Hill, also serves as South Africa’s National swimming coach. Karl has swum in South Africa’s biggest open-water event, the Midmar Mile, for the past five years. On three occasions, Karl has had the good fortune of representing our country at the Down Syndrome International Swimming Organization’s International Gala. He has won a great many medals, and even set a record in the 25-meter breaststroke in 2004.

For roughly a decade, he has competed in Provincial and National SO South African swimming galas. SO has helped him grow into a more confident young man, who loves being around people.

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by Mike Hebbelmann Karl at WWE Durban


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