By Sean Minnihan
Nicolette Jones enjoys swimming in the blue waters of the pool in her backyard, but make no mistake that she has her sights set on gold for the next five months.
A competitor in the 50-meter freestyle and 25-meter backstroke and breaststroke event, Nicolette has been preparing for this moment almost her whole life as she aims to represent Special Olympics Southern California, the Inland Empire, and herself this summer in the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle.
As many families who have pools in the backyard do, Nicolette was taught to swim at the age of 3. Her mother Julie explained that it was important for all of her children to be safe and comfortable in the water, but Nicolette showed skill and talent soon thereafter. Nicolette joined SOSC in 2007 at the age of 9 and knew she had found her second home in the swimming pool.
“She loves swimming. That’s the only sport she would like to do,” Julie added.
Now in her 11th year with Special Olympics, Nicolette has continued to achieve success both in and out of the pool. Nicolette was crowned with her tiara as one of Great Oak High school’s Homecoming Princesses in her senior year, and recently graduated this past year. Julie attributes much of Nicolette’s success and development to the wonderful mentors and coaches that have helped her along the way.
“I think it’s the consistency in the coaching,” Julie replied when asked what made the greatest impact in Nicolette’s life and helped foster her growth in Special Olympics.
With five months to prepare, Nicolette will be looking to add to her already impressive list of accolades. Most notably, Nicolette won the gold medal for the 50-meter backstroke at both the 2017 Orange County and Inland Empire Regional Spring Games. She followed up her success by taking another gold medal in the 50-meter backstroke and a silver in the 50-meter freestyle at the 2017 Summer Games.
While a first-place finish is the ultimate goal for Nicolette, she and her family are excited to participate and represent SOSC on the national level.
“It was a really nice surprise,” Julie said of the selection. “She’s very excited to go to Seattle.”