Courier Times Features Global Games Swimmer Maria D’Andrea
This article appeared in the August 15, 2009 print edition of the Bucks County Courier Times and online at Phillyburbs.com.
A world of experience for Bensalem’s D’Andrea
By KAREN SANGILLO
Link to Original Article
Maria Dâ€™Andrea turned her interest in swimming into a passion that has taken her to a whole new world. And she didnâ€™t let a disability get in her way. The Bensalem student competed at the International Federation for Sport for Athletes with an Intellectual Disability Global Games in Liberec, Czech Republic. Dâ€™Andrea has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and stutters.
She finished eighth in the 800-meter freestyle in 11 minutes, 55.98 seconds. She was also 10th in the 400 freestyle (5:57.24), 11th in the 50 freestyle (33.58), 14th in both the 200 backstroke (3:27.40) and 100 freestyle (1:17.27), 16th in both the 50 breaststroke (54.58) and 50 backstroke (48.64) and 18th in the 100 backstroke (1:38.09).
â€œI did really well,â€ Dâ€™Andrea said. â€œI was kind of surprised to finish eighth in the 800, because the competition was really, really tough.
â€œIâ€™m so glad I went. Everyone was kind of like me, so I didnâ€™t have to worry about anything; I just fit right in. I made so many friends and had so much fun. Iâ€™d never been to another country before; it was really great. I was so sad when it was over.â€
Dâ€™Andrea competed for Bensalemâ€™s high school team, but is now out of eligibility. She wants to continue swimming competitively.
â€œSwimming is the No. 1 thing in my life,â€ she said. â€œIâ€™m hoping I can find a masters team to swim with.â€
She had competed through Special Olympics in the past, but has proven to be too strong a swimmer for that level.
â€œSpecial Olympics is a great, great program, but over time, it wasnâ€™t competitive enough for her,â€ said her father, Jack.
â€œI was on the Internet and found this program [Athletes Without Limits & INAS-FID]. I thought it was too good to be true, but I looked into it and everything checked out, so we thought weâ€™d give it a try.
â€œThis really was worthwhile for her. She was really thrilled to get a passport, and I know she had a good time. Right after she came back, we drove to Florida for a conference on stuttering. We were in the car for three days, and I donâ€™t think two minutes went by where we didnâ€™t hear about the Czech Republic and swimming.
â€œSwimming has opened doors for her. When she came back from the Czech Republic, she told me she was sorry she hadnâ€™t won any medals, but that doesnâ€™t matter to me at all.
â€œI told her she went to another country, which I never did, and she is swimming competitively, which I never did. Her mother (Maryanne) and I are so proud of her.â€
She will continue getting essential subjects taught to her at Bensalem, and will soon be starting a job at Philadelphia Biblical University.
â€œIâ€™m excited to have a job, and I really donâ€™t think I could have done that without the confidence I got from swimming,â€ she said.