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November 18, 2013

Swimmer prepares for Special Olympics

NORMAN — Ashley Kohlun was looking for something to participate in so she could be around friends and be successful.

Since age 8, Kohlun, of Norman, has been participating in Special Olympics Oklahoma. Now, at age 34, she plans to attend Special Olympics 2014 USA Games in New Jersey from June 14-21 as an advanced swimmer in aquatics.

However, there was a process to get where she is now.

Each participant had to fill out an application. To qualify, they had to medal in the sport they are going for in Oklahoma State Games. The cost to attend is a minimum of $2,000 for travel, uniforms and housing expenses, which the state of Oklahoma pays.

However, the state encourages each participant to raise a minimum amount of $750 through fundraising on firstgiving.com. This allows people in the community, friends and family to donate the amount they please as contribution to the price of attending USA Games.

Kohlun has participated in World Games in Connecticut in 1995 and North Carolina in 1999, while being on the Norman High swim team. Each time, she has been an advanced swimmer in the aquatics category.

Yet, she did not stop there. She bowls and plays bocce, a less familiar sport in the U.S.

Kohlun is an ambitious swimmer with Williams Syndrome. She said swimming is not easy for her because of her many cardiovascular problems and learning disabilities.

However, Kohlun’s struggles make her stronger because she has the desire to relate to others, making her social and friendly.

Kohlun recently swam at a meet in Muskogee and has another meet at OCCC at 4 p.m. today.

“We sort of say that she is like a frog, so good at her breaststroke,” her mother, Catherine, said.

Ashley is supported by her family, friends, teammates and community. Donations can be made through sook.org/usa-games.html or by calling 918-481-1234.

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