Boyertown YMCA Special Needs Swimming Program a Big Splash for Students


Brandywine Heights Senior Shelby Freed and her swim buddy at the Boyertown YMCA

Many Boyertown Area Senior High students are giving their time in a program that gives people with special needs a chance to participate in competitive sports.

The program is the Special Olympics Swim Team, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club and hosted by the Boyertown YMCA. Swimmers ages 6 and older who have disabilities such as cerebral palsy, down syndrome, and autism come on every Wednesday for 45 minutes to swim laps and receive training for two competitive meet that takes place in the spring.

Alexis Shaner, a 9th grader at Boyetown East, who has been in Special Olympics for a few years, swims backstroke, freestyle, and occasionally dives.

“I’ve made many friends,” she said. “I enjoy the competitions and winning medals.”

Swimmers are coached by Kathy Undercuffler, the Aquatics Director at the YMCA. “I”ve been doing this for 15 years and it is the most rewarding thing I have ever done,” she said.

About a dozen Boyertown students help teach swimmers at the practices. A number of students at Boyertown and other area schools with special needs also participate in the program.

Casey Schreger,  a 11th at Oley Valley High School, is a participant. He said his enjoys swimming and the friends he has made.

“My favorite stroke is freestyle,” he said. He dislikes backstroke, he said, because he is afraid of running into the wall.

The program is open to everyone, Undercuffler said. More information can be found at