Hectic schedule for Special Olympian
Michelle Tschetter looking forward to Vancouver games
By: Alex MacPherson
| Posted: Wednesday, Jul 09, 2014 06:00 am
Special Olympics Canada
Special Olympics Canada celebrated its 45 anniversary on June 9, 2014. To date the Special Olympics program has helped nearly 3.7 million intellectually disabled athletes in 170 countries around the world.
At 25 years old Michelle Tschetter has so many swimming medals they can barely fit around her neck.
“Do you mind if I take these off?” said Tschetter after the photo, “they’re kind of uncomfortable.”
Tschetter is representing Team Alberta this week in swimming at the Special Olympics’ Summer Games in Vancouver.
“I’ve been swimming my whole life. I took swimming lessons when I was little like everyone does, but I really loved it.”
Four years ago Tschetter joined the Special Olympics program and began swimming for the team in St. Albert.
“It was my sister Christine who found out about the program. She was Googling around and stumbled across it,” said Tschetter.
At her sister’s insistence Tschetter joined the team and quickly fell in love with it.
“There’s just so much to do. It’s not just swimming,” said Tschetter. “There is bowling and baseball and soccer. All of the volunteers are so nice to me. I’ve made a lot of friends through the program, including Connor.”
Tschetter is referring to Connor Bissett, another swimmer representing St. Albert in Vancouver.
“My mom has been so supportive, she drives me to all of my practices. My family never misses a meet,” said Tschetter.
Tschetter will have a lot of support in Vancouver both in and out of her family. More than 10 relatives and friends will be making the trip to cheer her on.
“Bernise Lema, my 88-year-old grandma, will be there. Can you believe that? She’s coming all the way down to see me,” said Tschetter.
Tschetter told us that she wasn’t worried about the pressure and that all of the support was just encouraging to her to do her best.
“We’re proud of Michelle,” said Doug Tschetter, Michelle’s father. “It’s been a really great program for her.”
Tschetter regrets that the hectic schedule of the Games means she won’t have much time to see her family until the closing ceremonies.
“She has to stay at the athlete’s village with her team for the whole time,” said Doug Tschetter. “There are a lot of rules.”
Special Olympics Canada has warned parents that busy athletes such as Tschetter will only have 30-45 minutes a day to interact with their families.
Athletes will sleep six to an apartment and keep to a tight training and competition schedule. No junk food is allowed until after the games are over. It’s not so bad, said Tschetter.
“My friends will be there,” said Tschetter, “and I’ll see my family whenever I can. They’ll be cheering for me in the stands.”
Tschetter extended thanks to all of the people who have helped her get to Vancouver.
“There’s been so many people helping me,” said Tschetter. “I’m very lucky.”
Tschetter will be competing from July 9 to 12 in Vancouver.