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Two Olds special Olympics athletes heading to Summer Games

Olds & District Special Olympics swimmers Wesley Wilks and Erica Houle will be competing in the 2022 Canada Summer Games which will be held Aug. 6-21 in Ontario
MVT Can Summer Games Wesley Wilks & Erica Houle
Olds & District Special Olympics swimmers Wesley Wilks, left, and Erica Houle will be competing in the Canada Summer Games in Ontario this year.

OLDS — Two Olds & District Special Olympics (ODSO) athletes are heading to the 2022 Canada Summer Games which will be held Aug. 6-21 in St. Catharines/Niagara, Ont. 

Erica Houle, 26, and Wesley Wilks, 21, will be competing in the pool. 

“It is again so exciting to have some of our local athletes represent us on the national scene,” ODSO chair Karen Mengersen wrote in an email. 

She noted that previously, ODSO athletes have not only competed nationally, but even in internationally, in Los Angeles in 2015 and Abu Dhabi in 2019. 

“It has truly been an honour to have our athletes represent Olds and Alberta and Canada,” Mengersen said. 

Houle will be competing in backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle, known by some as the front crawl.  

She says her favourite stroke is freestyle because “it’s the fastest and it’s also the easiest for me to do.” 

However, Houle says her best stroke is breaststroke because her technique is better in that one. 

Houle is excited because she’s never competed at the national level before. 

“I feel really good about it,” she said during an interview, but admitted she’s also “really nervous.” 

Wilks will be competing in the 50-metre (m) freestyle, 100 m free, 100 m backstroke, 50 m breaststroke and 50 m backstroke. 

Wilks’ favourite is the breaststroke. 

“It’s a nice and easy stroke for me," he said. “But I’ve recently liked doing backstroke because I’ve gotten really good at it.” 

In fact, Wilks said he likes doing all of his strokes because “it gives me a lot of diversity.” 

Wilks was asked how, when doing backstroke, he figures out when to tumbleturn as he gets near the end of the pool to head back the other way. 

“I count,” he said. “There’s a flag. So we look at the flag and we figure out how many strokes you need to take before the wall. My stroke count is three, then a flip. 

“And if I’m going really good in, like if I have a really good kick, it’s two and then a flip. It’s just by feeling of the water.” 

Wilks is reasonably confident he’ll do well in St. Catharines. 

“My times have been getting really closer to my PBs (personal bests), which is good,” he said. 

“And I’m looking forward to seeing how well I do on my backstroke, because my backstroke has recently been very close to my personal best in practice.” 

Both Houle and Wilks have been getting in extra practice to prepare for the Summer Games. 

Houle has been practising twice a week, once on Friday and once on Sunday. 

Wilks has been practising seven days a week typically. 

When interviewed, he was looking forward to doing some long course training in the outdoor pool in Red Deer. 

“It’s a 50 metre pool – it’s twice the distance of the Olds pool. It gives you more time to practise your strokes and it’s the (pool length) that we’ll be competing in in Ontario.”