June 7, 2023

Debbie Ogden considers swimming a lifesaving skill. That is precisely why she lifted each one particular of her children in the pool. The Special Olympics United states of america head swimming mentor has shared that exact same know-how with Exclusive Olympics athletes for the earlier 16 several years. In advance of assuming that part, she cheered on her son Robbie, who competed in Distinctive Olympics from the next he was outdated adequate to do so. Robbie was born in 1988 with a chromosomal abnormality, but that would not deter him from subsequent his family’s footsteps, or flutter kicks, in the lanes. Due to his condition, he could not sweat, creating swimming the perfect sport to go after.

A group of three people pose for a photo.

The Ogden loved ones has constantly felt at dwelling in the pool.

Robbie’s sister Ashley, a few several years his elder, was an inspiration in the drinking water. He traveled to every one of his sister’s swim satisfies, patiently ready at the edge of the pool to hug each individual swimmer emerging from their race. Soaking moist, he congratulated them all. Likewise, the Ogden loved ones members loyally volunteered their time, abilities, and words of encouragement to Unique Olympics Kentucky swimmers.

“Special Olympics has impacted my lifetime in a lot of approaches, to start with, by seeing the joy that is introduced to my son as he participated,” reported Ogden. “Then, when I started out coaching following he passed in 2005, it was one particular of the hardest factors that I have at any time accomplished, but also one particular of the most worthwhile. Robbie taught me the real indicating of existence and appreciate and living just about every moment of lifetime the ideal you can during his small lifetime,” she continued.

Immediately after his passing, Ogden’s family members, friends, and fellow Special Olympics mother and father ultimately certain her to revisit the Particular Olympics Kentucky swimming program, housed at Northern Kentucky College, as their head coach. In her initial yr, Ogden claims she cried every day following exercise, grieving Robbie’s absence in the pool.

Increasing the method from 10 swimmers to 90 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ogden claims, “Each of these athletes retains a pretty unique place in my coronary heart.” Complementing her purpose with Distinctive Olympics, she is previous president of Moms of Exclusive Kids of Northern Kentucky and of the Northern Kentucky Swim League, and a certified United states Swimming official. She is used as a senior government assistant at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Health-related Centre.

A woman poses for a photo in front of a white background.

Debbie Ogden is prepared to coach Special Olympics United states of america swimmers at the Unique Olympics Planet Games Berlin 2023.

Image by Marco Catini

When Ogden discovered of her nomination as head coach for Exclusive Olympics United states of america in the Specific Olympics Entire world Video games Berlin 2023, she got to operate. The Specific Olympics United states Workforce Trials were being held Nov. 18-20 in San Antonio, Texas. Ogden invested the weekend witnessing friendships and swimming techniques alike prosper, learning how she can very best encourage her athletes from dry land.

“I have to say my just one phrase to explain the weekend was ‘amazing,’” explained Ogden. “It really was, it was an amazing knowledge. I experienced met all my athletes by using Zoom, and it was wonderful to satisfy them in human being, see their personalities, and gel as a team.”

In the coming months, Ogden will host monthly Zoom sessions, examining training regimens that she has curated for every athlete and shared with their regional coaches. Serving as the head swim coach for Special Olympics Kentucky in the 2018 and 2022 Specific Olympics United states of america Games, Ogden is professional in the art of planning for substantial-scale competitions.

Returning to the pool deck, calendar year after 12 months, Debbie Ogden proceeds to teach this lifesaving talent. It is 1 that has saved her time and time yet again, experience most grounded by the drinking water. It has shaped her vocation, her relatives, and her viewpoint on what it means to reside a total daily life, no issue how very long it might be.