Austin Olive is going back to where his paralympics swimming journey began.
The recent graduate from Yucaipa High School is competing this weekend in the Angel City Games, the adaptive sports event at UCLA where he was recruited to compete in the junior nationals two years ago.
“The Angel City Games are where Adaptive Sports USA saw me first,” said the freestyle specialist, who also swam on the high school team and still competes with the Yucaipa Swim Team, a club organization.
“I went through intense testing by Queenie Nichols, the director of U.S. Paralympics Swimming, while at the Angel City Games,” he said, recalling their initial meeting.
Olive was classified in the S10 for freestyle, SB9 for breaststroke and SM10 for individual medley. Para swimming uses a scale of 1 to 10 to classify competitors’ degree of disability, with 1 indicating the most severe activity limitation and 10 the least.
Olive has Hypohidrotic Ectodermal Dysplasia, a rare genetic condition that causes issues with his teeth and a limited ability to sweat. He cannot maintain or regulate his body temperature. However, swimming in a pool helps him maintain his body temperature, said his aunt, CoraFaye Olive, whom he lives with, along with his father and younger sister. He also has cerebral palsy.
Austin hopes to take the experience he gains at the Angel City Games to the Adaptive Sports USA 2019 Junior Nationals in July in Eden Prairie, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis.
“Austin has qualified for junior nationals three times, but has never been able to go,” said CoraFaye, referring to 2017, 2018 and now this year.
“Third time is the charm, right?” she said, hopefully.
The main reason Austin has not been able to compete yet in junior nationals is money, as it takes resources to travel and stay at the July 14-19 event for swimmers up to age 22. The family is seeking sponsors to help with expenses.
“We are looking for businesses to sponsor Austin and his adventures to the junior nationals,” CoraFaye said.
If he is able to go, Austin will compete in the 50 and 100 freestyle events.
“My hopes for junior nationals are to make times for nationals. Besides that, I want to gain support and make friends,” he said, referring to the higher-level competition at the U.S. Paralympics National Para Swimming Championships.
His next step toward that goal is this weekend’s Angel City Games, his first paralympic competition since recovering from an injury in May.
“We are going to get some competition and it is one of the bigger events,” CoraFaye said about the UCLA swim meet, where Austin will compete in the 50 and 100 freestyles, 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly. “It’s just amazing.”
While he works on achieving his swimming goals, Austin is also attending Crafton Hills College this summer and is planning a career in radiologic technology or medical imaging, and is a member of the school’s water polo team. This fall, Crafton Hills College will field its first men’s and women’s water polo teams.
There is one other thing Austin would like to accomplish in the pool.
“My long-term goal is to compete in the 2024 Paris Paralympics,” Austin said. “My little sister is hoping to compete at the junior national level next year and maybe we'll compete together in 2024 or 2028.”
Anyone interested in contributing to Austin’s paralympic fund, can contact his aunt at 528-2511 or email email@example.com