Ephrata athlete earns three golds at Summer Games

By on July 27, 2011

By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor truth.eph@lnpnews.com, Staff Writer

Daniel Hinerdeer has a nice collection of gold medals, and recently, the 14-year-old Ephrata youth earned three more while competing at the 42nd annual Special Olympics of Pennsylvania Summer Games held at Penn State University June 9-11.

Competing in the 25 freestyle, 50 freestyle and 25 backstroke, Hinerdeer took first place in all three events, which included a gold in the 25 free for the third-straight year.

The Ephrata High School sophomore-to-be, who does his training at Universal Fitness, called his latest feat, "Pretty exciting."

This was the third-straight year Hinerdeer has competed at the PA Summer Games and his latest performance was his best to date.

"One of the things he does to prepare is over the winter," Hinerdeer’s father Scott said. "He swims with the (Ephrata) Tidal Waves. And then the training starts for Special Olympics in mid-February. We have drills that we run and I’m actually one of the coaches."

"I’m very proud of the work that he puts into it," Scott continued. "All of our athletes do really well. We have athletes that run the gamut. Some that physically have problems, some that mentally have problems, and of course, there’s both. Lancaster County took five athletes to States in swimming. The one young lady, it was her first time there and she gold medaled. If I remember right, they each got one gold."

To get to the PA Summer Games, Hinerdeer first had to qualify from the regional games which are held in Kutztown. He did that, and now with his latest success, there is a chance he could get picked to go to nationals, and then possibly the International Games which are in Greece this year.

"If he gets picked, he’d love to go," Scott said. "One of the biggest things people don’t realize, especially with swimming, is that the athletes are expected to perform the proper strokes. So they can be disqualified for not doing the proper stroke. They give you a window of 25 percent that you can be faster. If you’re out of that range, you can also be disqualified. The categories the whole way through Special Olympics go by age and ability, so it runs the gamut."

In two of his three races at States, one of his biggest competitors was an 18-year-old.

"There’s a big difference in muscle and lung capacity, so he did real well."

Danny was joined at States by his entire family, including his parents Scott and Missy, along with his two brothers, Philip and Josiah.

Scott said it was a great experience for the whole family.

"We all went up as a family this year," he said. "Special Olympics is a wonderful organization. Sheetz is our big sponsor. They sponsor the whole event at Penn State. They rent dorms out for the athletes and somebody from Sheetz’s family is always there, from the opening ceremony to the closing ceremony. It’s a great experience for the kids."

For more information on the Special Olympics of PA, go to: www.sopasummergames.org. The website for the local chapter is: www.specialolympicslancastercounty.com

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