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Cayman Islands Government

Smilley Cements Success

Minister of Sports, the Hon. Mark Scotland, congratulates swimmer Andrew Smilley, Coach Penny McDowall, and Special Olympics Cayman Islands Chairman Maxine Everson on their success.

Andrew Smilley's swimming success received international recognition when his performance at the RCP Tiburon Mile Swim - held in San Francisco Bay - was named the Greatest Open Water Swim of 2009.

Cayman's most famous Special Olympian received the accolade after winning www.thewaterisopen.com's online poll. The honour is given to the person considered to best embody the spirit of open water swimming; represent the adventure, tenacity and perseverance for which open water swimmers are known; and have most positively influenced the world of open water swimming in 2009.

But Andrew remains humble and unfazed by all the attention. Instead, he is busily preparing for his next big event: the Latin-American Special Olympic Games in Puerto Rico this February.

Andrew started competitive swimming when he was 8 years old. He trains two hours a day, every weekday, getting up at 5 a.m. to catch a ride with his coach, Penny McDowall.

"His dedication is phenomenal," says Coach McDowall, proudly. She herself has received an accolade, when she became one of only 40 coaches to get the Special Olympics' Exemplary Coach Award.

"Worldwide, there are more than 250,000 Special Olympics coaches. And so for Penny to win this international award is really something we cherish," explained Special Olympics Cayman Islands Board Director Maxine Everson.

Although Andrew is mostly known for his swimming success, he also plays basketball and football. The former Lighthouse School student is also holding down a full-time job with Red Sail Sports, and represents the athletes on the Special Olympics Board of Directors.

"Andrew is an exceptional person and proves that where there is a will, there are no boundaries. As an athlete, his hard work, dedication and perseverance have deservedly earned him my respect, and I applaud him for being a positive role model for our young people," said Sports Minister, the Hon. Mark Scotland.

He added, "However, I know it is a team effort, and I commend Coach McDowall and the Special Olympics Cayman Islands Committee for supporting Andrew throughout. This is truly a proud moment for the Cayman Islands."

For more on Andrew's achievement, go to The Water is Open.

(GIS)

For further information contact: Cornelia Oliver