Meliah Motchman has a snack while completing a five-kilometre swim at Thetis Lake. The Victoria Special Olympics open water swimmer is nominated for an international award. (Photo courtesy of Susan Simmons)

Meliah Motchman has a snack while completing a five-kilometre swim at Thetis Lake. The Victoria Special Olympics open water swimmer is nominated for an international award. (Photo courtesy of Susan Simmons)

Victoria Special Olympics swimmer nominated for international open water award

Distance swimming specialist Meliah Motchman has broken new ground

Victoria Special Olympics swimmer Meliah Motchman gained some international recognition recently.

Nicknamed Madame Butterfly, Motchman is the first swimmer with Down syndrome to be nominated for the World Open Water Swim Association’s Performance of the Year award.

The 30 year old swims with a group of athletes with intellectual disabilities in open water – primarily the ocean – known as the Spirit Orcas.

“Meliah’s nomination is a real milestone in the history of open-water swimming,” Spirit Orcas and Special Olympics coach Susan Simmons said in a release. “This is a significant step forward for inclusion in our sport.”

In the summer of 2020, Motchman took part in an multi-leg, 80-kilometre ocean-based fundraiser they dubbed The Great Big Swim, an effort that raised $7,000 for COVID-19 relief.

RELATED STORY: Spirit Orca swimmers tackle 80-kilometre Peninsula swim for COVID-19 relief

She also swam a pair of five-kilometre solo swims, becoming the first known person with Down Syndrome to do so without a wetsuit.

“Meliah is a determined athlete who overcomes her fears of seaweed and sea creatures every time she enters the water,” Simmons said.

Winners are determined through a voting system at openwaterswimming.com/performance-of-the-year-2021. The voting ends Jan. 31 at 3 p.m. PST.

ALSO READ: Free multi-sport para program launching for Greater Victoria youth with disabilities


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