Anthony Khalil, a La Cañada resident and fifth grader at Palm Crest Elementary, had a first-place finish in the annual Bubble Invitational Swim Meet held at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center on Sunday.
Anthony's team, the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center Stingrays, a special-needs swim team, took first in the meet, beating out the Leaps and Boundz, Frogs and Big Fun, and Blue Dolphins teams. More than 50 swimmers ages 6 to 17 competed in the meet, which had multiple heats in the 25-meter, 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle, backstroke, butterfly and breaststroke events.
"The Stingrays performed very well and I am very proud of Anthony," said Deborah Noonan, coach of the Stingrays. "He has been a member of the Stingrays for the past two months and he's come a long way. There is definitely a lot of potential for him in swimming."
Anthony took first in the 25-yard butterfly with a time of 32 seconds. He also placed fourth in the 100-yard freestyle (2:43) and the 50-yard breaststroke (1:20).
"Breaststroke is my favorite because it gets me there the fastest," Khalil said. "I want to win, of course!"
The Stingrays program is the most comprehensive program of its kind in the San Gabriel Valley. It provides a supportive and therapeutic environment for children and young teens with developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. The program is designed to help the athletes develop their competitive swimming abilities, as well as their social and physical health.
Stingrays meet for practices several times a week and include some land-based exercise as well. The members learn swim strokes including freestyle, backstroke, butterfly and breaststroke.