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Special Olympics Washington

JBLM Tigers athletes tune up for USA Games

Northwest Guardian

Published: 02:42PM June 7th, 2018

Courtesy Photo

Darren Allen waves to family in between events at the Special Olympics Washington Spring Games at the King County Aquatic Center June 2 and 3.

The Joint Base Lewis-McChord Tigers team collected plenty of medals during the 2018 Special Olympics Washington’s Spring Games Saturday and Sunday. Most of them came from swimming at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.

The JBLM Tigers combined for 11 gold, 11 silver, four bronze and five ribbons in swimming. Although this competition is usually the end of the swim season for JBLM Special Olympics, three athletes were previously selected for the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle July 1 to 6.

Andrue Lambes, Alexis Kinnan and Darren Allen were chosen in January to compete after qualifying with gold medals at last year’s state competition. Kinnan finished the Spring Games with three gold medals in the 25-meter freestyle, 25-meter backstroke and 50-meter freestyle.

She will go to the USA Games to compete in the girls’ 25-meter backstroke, girls’ 50-meter freestyle and the 4x25-meter relay team. Her mom, Rhonda Kelly, said Kinnan has enjoyed the competition and the camaraderie. She hopes to see her grow when he competes in Seattle.

“I hope it makes her feel more comfortable with life in general that she can do this,” Kelly said. “(She’s) getting out of that comfort zone and doing something that she’s never done before.”

Competing is a new challenge for Andrue Lambes, 16. His mom Robin said Andrew has been stressed in recent months preparing for the USA Games.

Still, Andrue was full-steam ahead for the Spring Games — finishing with gold in the 100-meter freestyle, silver in the 4x50-meter unified relay, silver in the 50-meter breaststroke and bronze in the 50-meter backstroke.

“He’s looking forward to seeing what he can do,” Robin Lambes said. “He knows that come July, this is the best of the best of all of the United States. He’s looking forward to seeing what his competition is going to be and (is) nervous at the same time.”

At the USA Games, Lambes will be in the boys’ 100-meter freestyle, the boys’ 50-meter backstroke and the 4x100-meter unified medley relay.

Allen, who is scheduled for the USA Games’ boys’ 25-meter backstroke, boys’ 50-meter freestyle and the all-athlete 4x25-meter relay, also earned gold at the Spring Games. He won in the 25-meter freestyle and the 50-meter backstroke.

Allen also was part of the silver-medal relay team with Lambes. His mother Sara said they weren’t talking much about the USA Games and instead are focusing on this swim season and the Spring Games. Now, everything shifts over to Seattle in July.

“We’re making plans to get together with the rest of the team Tuesdays and Thursdays every week until the USA Games, so one day at a time,” she said.

Sara Allen said the entire family is excited to see Darren compete because it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete at the USA Games.

“It’s a little more recognition for the hard work that he’s done the last few years in swim,” she said.

The event featured nearly 2,100 athletes from across the state competing in cycling, powerlifting, soccer, swimming and track and field between three locations: Pacific Lutheran University, King County Aquatic Center and JBLM, which hosted powerlifting and cycling.

The JBLM Tigers also competed in track and field, where they collected nine gold, four silver, seven bronze and six ribbons. They also claimed two silver and one bronze for soccer skills.

Dean Siemon: 253-477-0235, @deansiemon