- 21-year-old Max was supported by his family and the NDIS to qualify for the Special Olympics.
- Max’s dedication to his training and his therapy helped him win gold in the 50m freestyle.
Working hard to succeed
Swimming is an important part of Max’s life.
Living right near the idyllic northern beaches in Iluka north of Perth City, he developed a strong connection with the water.
Max is a keen sportsman in his community as a member of North Beach Football Club and Sorrento Surf Life Saving Club.
Max lives with an intellectual disability and receives support from the NDIS through APM Communities.
APM Communities support Max and his family, along with overseeing his therapy and support workers to assist Max to reach his treatment and behaviour goals.
Swimming is more than just a hobby for Max.
It’s part of his therapy and he became one of the first people with an intellectual disability to receive his modified Surf Rescue Certificate (SRC) to be able to patrol the beach at Sorrento.
In 2017, a friend introduced him to the Special Olympics.
Different to the Paralympics, the Special Olympics is world’s largest sports organisation for children and adults living with intellectual and physical disability.
Globally, the Special Olympics provides year-round training and activities to approximately 5 million athletes in over 170 countries.
In Australia, there are 3,000 athletes registered with Special Olympics who take part in support programs for athletes with disability.
The National Games for Special Olympics are held every four years, with state games held annually.
The most recent games were in Tasmania from 17 - 21 October 2022.
How swimming helped Max achieve his goals
Max trains once a week with Special Olympics coaches at HBF Stadium.
He is coached by members of the APM Communities teams who volunteer for Special Olympics as swim coaches.
He also goes swimming twice a week at Craigie Leisure Centre with his support worker as part of his therapy.
Max trained and competed to be chosen as a member of the state team who would represent WA at the games in Tasmania.
“Max had a goal when he was chosen in the team and his behaviour and focus changed so much when he was given the opportunity to compete” Max’s Mum Amanda said.
She describes how hard Max's hard work in and out of the pool paid off for him:
“He was asked to be a role model during the eight days he was away with the team as he was so focussed and well behaved.”
In the pool, Max progressed through his heats successfully and winning the gold medal in the 50m freestyle.
A winner outside of the pool
Through his participation in the Special Olympics and the national events – Max has learned invaluable independence skills.
Outside of the pool his dedication had wide-reaching benefits for Max and his family, showing improvements in his self-control, coping skills and reduced stress levels.
“He has made new friends and part of a real community” Amanda said.
Max and his family really appreciate the support of APM Communities.
His family and support network are incredibly proud of his achievements.
Amanda further added that how it makes such a difference to their lives and has given them insights into how Max functions and how to improve communication between them.
After his big win Max has set his sights on becoming a coach, so he can help other achieve their goals too.
In the meantime, Max will continue to train in the lead up to the next Special Olympics state games.
Perth’s bid for the 2027 World Games
Two swimmers from WA have been selected to represent Australia at the 2023 Special Olympics World Games in Berlin, Germany.
Perth has made a bid for the 2027 Special Olympics World Games, with Dr Timothy Shriver Chairman of the Special Olympics International Board of Directors, calling upon governments, businesses, philanthropists, and the local community to support Australia's bid.
This would mark the first time the World Games have been held in the southern hemisphere, attracting more than 8,000 athletes, over 500,000 spectators from over 170 countries.
The outcome of the bid and announcement of the host nation for 2027, will be announced this November.
As part of the NDIS Partners in the Community program, APM Communities help people with disability in several regions in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory to access support.