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Special Olympians compete in Farmington

Hannah Grover
hgrover@daily-times.com

FARMINGTON — While the Olympic games continue in Brazil, a different type of Olympics came to Farmington this week.

Nearly 1,000 athletes of all ages and abilities competed in golf, softball and swimming Friday and today in the Four Corners Invitational of the Special Olympics.

Mackenzie Amundson, of Albuquerque, competes in the 25-meter butterfly race during Special Olympics New Mexico's Four Corners Invitational on Saturday at the Farmington Aquatic Center.

Mackenzie Amundson, 18, of Albuquerque, competed in the freestyle swim, as well as two butterfly swim competitions today at the Farmington Aquatic Center. She stood on the edge of the pool with her arms spread prior to a butterfly stroke competition. When she heard the signal to start the race, she dove into the water and quickly took the lead. A man swimming a few lanes over began to gain on her about halfway across the pool. Every few strokes, Amundson looked over to check how she was doing compared to her competitors.

After finishing slightly ahead of the closest competitor, Amundson said she was nervous during the race. She said she was happy with how she did, and she knew her family was very happy, too.

"I like swimming because I can compete," she said. "I like my team."

Annalysia Ortiz, 11, of Albuquerque, finishes the 25-meter breaststroke race during Special Olympics New Mexico's Four Corners Invitational on Saturday at the Farmington Aquatic Center.

Randy Mascorella, the executive director of Special Olympics New Mexico, said Farmington has gained a reputation with the athletes for having good facilities and a welcoming community.

"When we come here, our athletes feel valued," she said.

The Four Corners Invitational also allows Special Olympics athletes to meet people from across the state, Mascorella said.

Athletes like Michelle Wankel, 39, of Carlsbad, say meeting people is one of their favorite things about the Special Olympics.

Crystal Ramos, of Rio Rancho, receives a gold medal for competing in the 25-meter freestyle race during Special Olympics New Mexico's Four Corners Invitational on Saturday at the Farmington Aquatic Center.

"There are many people I like to meet," she said. "I like to hang out with people and have a good time and just be happy."

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.