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September 13, 2012 | SOI General: Headquarters

Officials "Love What They're Doing"

By Will Schermerhorn

Manuel de Jesus, with clipboard, is the technical director

"I've done a lot of yelling for a long, long, long time," Manuel de Jesus said, suggesting that might possibly explain the rasp in his voice. All that yelling comes from being a coach for 40 years. Hes also in charge of the aquatics officials at the World Aquatics event in San Juan. Officially, he's the technical coordinator, and that puts him in charge of about 16 referees, stroke judges, turn judges, starters, the head time keeper and the announcer. All of the officials are volunteers, but they does not mean they are not highly trained. Each is a member of the Puerto Rico swim federation and are approved by an international swimming rules organization called FINA. Why stand on the pool deck for so long to officiate a Special Olympics event when you can choose to do something else? "They love what they're doing," Manuel said. "It's camaraderie, excitement, and they're dedicated." The local swim federation and Special Olympics Puerto Rico work together a lot, he said. And it really is different at a Special Olympics event. "It's emotion. It makes them want to come back."

About Will Schermerhorn: Will is Special Olympics's director of web strategy.
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