Two Olds Special Olympics Athletes Head to Summer Games

Olds & District Special Olympics swimmers Wesley Wilks and Erica Houle will be competing at the 2022 Canada Summer Games August 6-21 in Ontario

OLD — Two Special Olympics Olds & District (ODSO) athletes are heading to the 2022 Canada Summer Games to be held August 6-21 in St. Catharines/Niagara, Ont.

Erica Houle, 26, and Wesley Wilks, 21, will compete in the pool.

“It is once again so exciting to have some of our local athletes represent us on the national stage,” ODSO President Karen Mengersen wrote in an email.

She noted that previously, ODSO athletes had not only competed at the national level, but even at the international level, in Los Angeles in 2015 and Abu Dhabi in 2019.

“It was truly an honor to have our athletes represent Olds, Alberta and Canada,” Mengersen said.

Houle will compete in the backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle, known to some as the front crawl.

She says her favorite style is the freestyle because “it’s the fastest and also the easiest for me to do.

However, Houle says his best shot is the breaststroke because his technique is better there.

Houle is excited because she has never competed at the national level before.

“I feel really good about it,” she said in an interview, but admitted she was also “really nervous.”

Wilks will compete in the 50m (m) freestyle, 100m freestyle, 100m backstroke, 50m breaststroke and 50m backstroke.

Wilks’ favorite is the breaststroke.

“It’s a nice, easy shot for me,” he said. “But I’ve been enjoying doing the backstroke recently because I’ve gotten really good at it.”

In fact, Wilks said he enjoys doing all of his shots because “it gives me a lot of variety.”

Wilks was asked how, when doing the backstroke, he determined when to turn around as he neared the end of the pool to come back the other way.

“I count,” he said. “There is a flag. So we look at the flag and we figure out how many hits you need to take in front of the wall. My punch count is three, then a flip.

“And if I’m really good, like I’ve got a really good kick, it’s two and then a flip. It’s just feeling the water.

Wilks is reasonably confident he will do well in St. Catharines.

“My times got really close to my PBs (personal bests), which is good,” he said.

“And I can’t wait to see how well I’m doing on my back, because my back has recently been very close to my personal best in training.”

Houle and Wilks trained more to prepare for the Summer Games.

Houle trained twice a week, once on Friday and once on Sunday.

Wilks typically trains seven days a week.

During his interview, he was looking forward to a long workout in the Red Deer outdoor pool.

“It’s a 50m pool – that’s twice the distance of the Olds pool. It gives you more time to practice your strokes and that’s the (pool length) we compete in in Ontario.

Naomi C. Amerson