The best advice from Special Olympics Arizona is "don't put your swimsuits away yet, our athletes are ready to make a splash at the Arizona 2001 Fall Championships."
Local Special Olympians are heeding that advice by spending weekday afternoons at the local Day's Inn where they train for the gold-medal games in the hotel's indoor pool.
The Rim athlete's officially tapped Northern Gila County Special Olympians will travel to Scottsdale Friday and Saturday where they will have the opportunity to showcase their skills in the fall championships.
The local team will participate in the aquatics events, but competition will also be held in golf, bocce and volleyball.
Payson sports one of the most accomplished Special Olympics programs in the state, but does not yet field teams in those sports.
The fall championships tip off at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Scottsdale Stadium with the opening ceremonies that will include live entertainment, dancing and guest appearances from several celebrities.
Over 700 athletes from throughout the state are expected to compete.
The aquatics competition will be held at Scottsdale Chaparral pool and the Olympic Village set up at Chaparral Park.
Special Olympic officials have issued an invitation for local sports fans to attend the championships free.
"Watch the results of hard work and dedication as Special Olympics athletes accomplish their goals during the weekend competition," SO official Julie Borgsmiller said.
Set to participate from the Rim country are Gary Bonn, Eric Liddiard, Tim Meeske, Melody Montbleau, Tony Saba, John Sexton, Debbie Tedford, Heather Werlinger, Crissy Wiley, Sarah Pierce, Stephanie Zierk, John Ditzhazy, Eric Fisher, Jacqueline McDowell, LeAnne Gilles and Thomasina McCoy.
The local team is coached by Becky Derwort.