We had 12 Swimmers compete in the PNY Polar Bear Classic over the weekend in Gulf Shores, AL. We had 20 best time swims, 9 first time swims and 4 Team records fell. Congrats to Daniela Cruz for breaking the 11 and 12 girls 200 free record with a 2:45.03. The highlight of the weekend was Dolon Babcock, 9 and autistic, swimming his first ever 200 breast, back, and fly! SEASTARS has never had a 9 and 10 year old compete in these 3 events and Dolon leagally swam all 3. Way to go Dolon! Congrats on your first 3 SEASTARS Records!

Here is some info about Dolon and how he has grown through SEASTARS Aquatics:

Dolon is a happy, loving and fun boy who lights up every room he walks into. Dolon also has Autism.

At the age of 2 Dolon was not speaking, had very little social interest and had many of the extreme behaviors associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder. He immediately began early intervention services. At the age of 6 he was diagnosed both educationally and medically as having Autism. In school he was unable to attend General Education classes and was placed in self contained Autism Classrooms. With the help of involved parents, teachers and therapists he made some improvements over the years in speech and social interest but still struggled to cope with everyday life.

In the summer of 2013 six children with Autism wandered away from their parents and drowned within a 3 week period of time. Knowing Dolon’s love for water, his parents became determined to protect him from drowning as much as possible. However, because of his Autism, finding a swim teacher that could work with him seemed next to impossible. On top of that, Dolon’s behavior made it impossible for his mother to work outside the home and, for a one income household, paying for lessons was financially challenging. Then they heard about Seastars Aquatics which specializes in giving swim lessons to children with special needs. In order to fund Dolon’s swim lessons, his parents began selling his artwork on Etsy. Thanks to the generosity of friends and family, Dolon was able to receive 6 months of swim lessons before he was water safe and able to join the Seastars Aquatics Swim Team.

2 years later Dolon is excelling at swimming. He works very hard at practice. He attends most Swim Meets and frequently beats his best times. Even more exciting is the growth that has taken place within Dolon. Dolon is now speaking in full sentences and sharing his thoughts and ideas. He has grown into a social child who loves his friends, teachers and coaches. He has learned how to control his behaviors to the point that he is now able to attend General Education classes with ESE walk-in support. The future is so bright for Dolon!