Center Grove Grad Liam Price Competes on U.S. Swim Team at Special Olympics World Games
Writer / Matt Keating
Liam Price, a 2020 graduate of Center Grove High School, competed at the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin, Germany, last June.
It’s a memory he will always treasure.
Liam, a student at the University of Indianapolis, says he had to work hard to earn a spot on a swim team to compete in the games. He also had to keep busy with his schoolwork at the same time.
“I’m a class of 2024 communications major, and the first Special Olympic athlete on the University of Indianapolis swim and dive team,” he says.
Liam, who has autism, enjoyed the challenge of pursuing a spot on the team.
“I earned a spot on the Special Olympics team last November,” Liam says. “I had to go to San Antonio, Texas, before being selected to the team. I had to go through three days of tryouts. There were three coaches in San Antonio that put all the swimmers through several hours of tryouts to see if we could make the team and travel to Germany.”
Liam says he had a great time at the games.
“On Saturday, June 17, 2023, I was at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin,” Liam says. “It was the 16th Special Olympic games.”
Liam’s father, Jon, who also went to Berlin, says there were 6,500 athletes and Unified Partners at the games.
“There were athletes from 190 countries,” Jon says. “It was a great experience. Liam and I had never been out of the country and it was beautiful in Berlin.”
There were 26 different sports in the games, supported by 3,000 coaches and 18,000 volunteers.
“It was also the first time since 1936 that an Olympic flame had been lit in Berlin,” Liam says. “Jesse Owens won gold medals in this stadium.”
Liam Price finished eighth in the 400-meter freestyle and sixth in the 100-meter backstroke, and also earned coveted Olympic hardware. “Liam and his team also received a silver medal in the 4×50-meter relay,” Jon says.
The Special Olympics U.S. swim team also received two gold medals, six silver medals and one bronze medal.
“The result of the competition was that the world came together as one to cheer on Special Olympic athletes,” Liam says. “It did not matter what nation it was, what language was spoken or which sport it was. Every nation cheered just as loud for those finishing first.”
The event also gave Liam and Jon a chance to meet people from all over the world.
“I like meeting new people from different countries,” Liam says. “I also enjoyed showing my swimming skills to the world and hanging out with my Special Olympics U.S.A. teammates. My experience was very positive. I met people from around the world that had interests in common with me. My new friends liked music, swimming and sports of all kinds. I met athletes from Slovakia, Macau, Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, Kuwait, Portugal, China, Australia and Canada.”
Liam also learned new facts about the games.
“A fun fact that I learned is that the 2027 Special Olympics World Games will be held in Australia,” Liam says.
Jon also had a great time.
“I loved the opening ceremonies at Olympic Stadium,” Jon says. “My wife, Cindy, and I are so proud of Liam. Liam had the goal to go to the World Games in his sights since the age of 14. Liam’s Coach, Jason Hite, helped Liam with his training. He encouraged Liam to dream big and train hard. Linda Boothe, our Johnson County Special Olympics coordinator, encouraged Liam to believe in his dream. It was great to watch Liam walk around Olympic Stadium as a member of Special Olympics U.S.A. It brought tears to my eyes.”
Jon also loved watching Liam and his Special Olympics teammates compete on the world stage.
“All of the athletes are Olympians that made history in Berlin with the lighting of the Olympic flame,” Jon says. “Cindy and I are proud of the example of good sportsmanship, kindness and commitment Liam has shown to the sport of swimming and to his competitors.”
Jon will never forget the games.
“It was the experience of a lifetime that I will cherish forever,” Jon says. “Cindy and I are so grateful for all the wonderful people in our community that have created a spark that helped Liam to believe in himself. Without the opportunities of inclusion in high school, college and Special Olympics that have been given to Liam over the years, I am very confident Liam would not be experiencing his dream to represent the United States at the Special Olympics World Games.”
For Liam, the Special Olympics presented a challenge he was able to meet successfully.
“Special Olympics has changed my life through the power of inclusion,” Liam says. “Special Olympics Johnson County is my home. I have made awesome friends through sports competitions.”
Jon hopes Liam’s success will inspire other people.
“Cindy and I hope more families will be searching for a place for their son or daughter to grow within a sport,” Jon says. “Special Olympics Johnson County has given Liam a place to grow physically and intellectually.”
Liam Price also encourages other kids to get involved in Special Olympics and enjoy the positive experiences he has had.
“If you know anyone 8 years old or older who has an intellectual disability, Johnson County Special Olympics wants you,” Liam says. “You can contact them at email@example.com.”