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Para-Swimming Events Added to CCS Finals

Mother’s Day is a special day for every mother, but this Mother’s Day weekend was especially great for Santa Clara mom Wendy Jarvis, who watched one of her sons achieve a dream she never thought possible.

“It was great. It was really just great to see him be included in something that everybody else was included in,” said Jarvis. “All those years of him doing swimming. All those practices. We never thought it would pay off this way. To see him be part of the inaugural games, it meant a lot to the entire family.”

On May 7, Jarvis’s son John, a junior at Wilcox High School, competed in a two new para-swimming events at the CCS Finals.

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Coach Rich Cruzan emailed me two weeks ago and said, ‘I just found out that CCS is adding a disabilities division. Would you like the twins to swim?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely. They would love to swim,’” recalled Jarvis.

Jarvis’s twin sons, Matthew and John, have Down syndrome. This weekend, John was able to compete in the Mixed 50 Yard Free and Mixed 100 Yard Free events at CCS. Matthew would have had the opportunity to compete, except he fell ill a few days before the meet.

While John missed his brother, he says he was “excited to swim Free” and it was “cool” to hear everyone cheer for him and Julian, another boy on the Wilcox swim team.

John finished second in both of his events and he already has the medals hanging in his bedroom.

CCS Commissioner Dave Grissom says CCS added the two para-swimming events a couple of years ago, but then COVID hit and disrupted everything. Now, CCS finally has the opportunity to debut the events.

“I’m a little giddy to watch it actually happen and unfold,” said Grissom. “It’s our first time. So, we’re kind of jumping into this and not quite sure exactly how it’s all going to work out. But my thought is that I think the other kids that are watching this will be as excited as the kids are.”

For Wendy, knowing what this means for other kids living with disabilities is priceless.

“It means that all of the people who have come before me and have advocated are being heard,” said a teary-eyed Jarvis. “It means that my boys will have the opportunity to make history in an inclusion development.”

The inclusion started for Matthew and John when they were just 8 years old. That’s when the manager of the Santa Clara Swim School noticed their younger brother was in classes and not them. She convinced Jarvis to get the twins in lessons.

When the boys graduated from swim school, the Santa Clara Swim Club found a place for them on the competitive team. At 13, they were swimming competitively for the club and later made it onto the Wilcox High School swim team.

For Jarvis, watching her boys swim and do what they love has been a dream come true.

“I remember the first meet, sitting in the stands. Parents were like, ‘Oh my gosh, they can butterfly. I can’t butterfly,’” recalled Wendy Jarvis. “So, you know, seeing the impact that they have on teaching others, their peers, [other] parents that just because they have a disability doesn’t mean that they can’t be successful. They may not be the fastest in the pool, but they’re there. They’re competing; they’re having fun. Their peers are cheering for them. The stands are cheering for them. And it just shows how far we’ve come as a society with the inclusion.”

At the CCS level, that inclusion continued on May 13-15 during the Track & Field Finals, where there were four para-events this year.

Because Matthew and John are juniors at Wilcox High School, they may have an opportunity to swim at the CCS Finals next season.

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