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The Tidal Wave is making waves in Longmont

The Tidal Wave is a new Special Olympics swim team in Longmont
Tidal Wave - a Special Olympics swim team - prepares for regionals and state.

The Tidal Wave is an unassisted, Special Olympic swim team in Longmont. The team consists of five team members, all with the goal of heading to state. 

Calvin Keim and his partner Anne Marsolek created the team after their children, who have special needs,expressed interest in seeking out a swimming team that provided them with “a bit more challenge,” Keim said. 

Keim and Marsolek are integrated into several sports for athletes with special needs. They have had a dream to create a swim team in Longmont that would challenge these athletes at the state level. Current teams participate only at the regional level. 

After looking into it a bit, Keim also discovered there were more athletes who wished to participate in swimming, but not enough teams to accommodate them all.

Each has a son with special needs and the two young men love to swim, Keim said. 

In 2022, Keim noticed that the Special Olympics was lacking in coaches due to the pandemic. After years of being involved in special needs athletic programs, Keim began and completed the process to become a Special Olympics coach.

“I was really happy when I got the certificate, and I’m happy that I can now help more kids with special needs by being out there for them … and their families too,” Keim told the Leader in May.

In November 2022, Keim and his co-coaches Marsolek and Bryson Kujala started the Tidal Wave. 

Season practices began in January at the Longmont YMCA and team members have been busy preparing for their regional competition in April. If they qualify at regionals, the athletes will advance to the state competition in Grand Junction in early June. 

The state competition attracts hundreds of Special Olympics athletes, which can be difficult to navigate with a large team with anywhere from 700 to 1,500 athletes competing, Keim said, adding he wanted to get his feet wet before adding to the roster. However, he hopes to double the roster spots — from five to 10 — next year.

In addition to competing, athletes can receive other services at the competition, such as getting a pair of glasses or a fitting for orthotics, Marsolek said.

The five swimmers include Ian “The Splash Master” McIatchie (15), Ethan “The Sonic” Newby (16), Calvin “The Wave Rider” Keim (28), Laurelle “Tidal Wave Queen” Hellinga (30) and Tim “The Machine” Miner (52).

Since this is a startup team it is in the process of raising money for uniforms, pool time, competition fees and travel accommodations for the team. 

In February, the swimmers set goals for themselves to reach a number of laps throughout the month. Most of the team had met their goals, but a few set their goals high and had a few more laps to complete, according to Keim, who added that he thought they would reach those goals by the end of the month.

“Our athletes are amazing and they put their hearts into every single practice and I know these athletes are going to go far and do a fantastic job in the regional and state competitions,” Keim said.