Patrick O’Brien, a Murrarie swimmer with autism, is well on the way towards a bright future competing in the Paralympics.
Patrick, a 17-year-old with autism and an intellectual disability, swims with Carina Leagues CJ’s Swim Club. He has already won numerous medals throughout his career, competing in the multiclass events from State to National level.
With the aid of his support worker under the National Disability Insurance Scheme, he trains six days a week and enters swimming competitions fortnightly. His journey first began five years ago after attending ‘Learn to Swim’ lessons for the Special Olympics at the age of 12.
“We always wanted him to learn how to swim; he has always loved the water but couldn’t swim,” says Kate Jansons, his mother. “We saw Learn to Swim in Redlands so after a couple of lessons they got him competing. Now he’s on his Paralympics pathway.”
Only three years later and Patrick O’Brien had made it to Nationals, winning three gold medals and one silver medal. During the 2019 World Paralympics trials in Brisbane, he entered the Top 10, and will swim at the Paralympics Trials coming up in Adelaide around June.
Outside of the pool, Patrick receives regular help from his support worker. Much of his hobbies relate to fitness and sporting activities such as athletics and cross-country. “The NDIS has been great at getting him to therapies and into his things, like being able to compete and to keep him safe,” says his mum.
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