A Victoria West swimmer has returned from the B.C. Special Olympics Summer Games with some shiny new hardware.
Cheyenne Furlong-Goos earned five medals – four gold, in the 100 metre and 200m freestyle, and the 50 and 100 m breaststroke, as well as a bronze – during the Games in Kamloops July 6 to 8.
“I didn’t know I was going to get the gold medals, it was shocking,” said the 18-year-old.
Furlong-Goos, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and learning and development disabilities, has been like a fish in water since her mother, Michelle, enrolled her in swimming lessons as a child.
“It feels like you’re free in the water and you can do whatever you want,” she said.
In recent years Furlong-Goos switched from recreational to competitive swimming and set her sights on a podium finish at the Summer Games. She was hoping to follow in the footsteps of her mother, who competed provincially in Special Olympics roughly 20 years ago.
Furlong-Goos took her first stab at the Games four years ago in Langley, when she won a bronze medal. This time around she improved her performance, due in large part to the hard work and dedication she put into each practice, according to head coach Susan Simmons.
In preparation for this year’s Games, the young swimmer focused on her sprinting and breaststroke kick during practices at Crystal Pool, which helped propel her to a podium finish.
While Furlong-Goos is proud to have five new medals, Simmons said swimming has also boosted her confidence outside the pool. When the two first started working together, the swimmer would arrive at practice with her head down and was not very talkative. But now, she’s become a new person, Simmons said.
“She talks more and jokes around more. She comes alive as a person and becomes more present,” she said. “Swimming has impacted other areas of her life. It’s given her courage to go out and do other things and that’s really positive.”
Furlong-Goos is one of more than 80 athletes from Victoria who competed in this year’s B.C. Special Olympic Summer Games, alongside 30 coaches. In total, they brought home 90 medals (30 gold, 33 silver and 27 bronze) in athletics, rhythmic gymnastics, softball, 10-pin bowling, soccer and golf.