A Franklin Square teenager has made a splash by creating an affiliate swimming team of Special Olympics New York.
Walter Szczech, a Chaminade High School junior, organized the Shark Waves, which has 15 local residents with conditions such as autism or Down syndrome. He got the idea from his experiences with his older brother, James, 25, who is disabled.
Last month, the team vied in its first tournament with the Special Olympics, winning gold in all its events.
“I have been very impressed and gratified,” Szczech, 17, said of the Shark Waves’ success. “We hope we can inspire others to find a need and address it.”
He recently received a certificate of special recognition from Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove).
Szczech co-founded the team with Ellen Lynch, whose nephew played with James on the New Hyde Park Knights, a basketball team for those with special needs. He also recruited about 15 Chaminade classmates as volunteers for the team’s weekly two-hour practices in the Mineola school’s pool, as well as half-a-dozen coaches.
In addition, Szczech arranged for Philip Scholz, who competed in the 2008 Summer Paralympic Games in Beijing, to speak to the team in March.
Szczech is president of the school’s Communications Club, an officer in History Club, and a member of the National Honor Society, Culinary Club and Sodality, which he described as a spiritual group that speaks about modern-day issues.