Madison McLeod loves attending school. But she has already informed her teachers that she will be absent on Friday. McLeod has exciting plans.

McLeod, age 13, will be competing in the 2013 Special Olympic Florida State Aquatics Championship in Sebastian, Florida. “I love to be in the water, and love to have people cheer for me,” shared McLeod.  

McLeod placed first in the Special Olympics Area Aquatics competition held in Ft. Walton Beach. She competed against other athletes from the counties of Okaloosa, Walton, Escambia, and Santa Rosa. Her first place finish earned her a spot to compete at the state level.

McLeod said, “I love to win medals.” Her competiveness and strong work ethic, since joining the swim team in March, has earned the respect of her coaches and teammates. Joy Roche, McLeod’s coach has watched as McLeod has advanced from a swimmer who initially needed assistance while in the water to a state competitor for the 50 meter free style and backstroke.  Roche stated, “We expect to see an exciting race, we are all very proud of her.”  Roche, a volunteer coach with Special Olympics for over 20 years, stresses that McLeod is more than just a swimmer; she is a skilled athlete.   

The state championship, which will be held October 5th and 6th, will consist of 325 athletes, 125 volunteer coaches and 100 event volunteers from all over the state.

Providing year round sports training and competitive opportunities for children as well as adults is the mission for Florida Escambia/Santa Rosa Special Olympics. These Special Olympic Athletes are exposed to skills that are necessary to be respected and productive citizens of society.

McLeod is the daughter of P.J. and Rachael McLeod.