Mark Evens, Hitchin, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom (9th November 1996) Born in 1996, Mark Evens lives in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, UK. Mark started swimming lessons at the age of four and joined Hitchin Swimming Club when he was 11. He trains five times a week, alongside his two younger brothers. Mark first represented Great Britain at the DSISO World Championships in Loano in 2012. As a Junior, he held nine world records and he is currently the Open World Record holder at 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m Freestyle. Mark works full time as a machine operator for ACSL Precision Engineering. When not at work or swimming, Mark enjoys reading, listening to music, dancing and going to the cinema. He is a great fan of Harry Potter and Doctor Who and loves spending time with his cats Ruby and Titch.”
Aran Miller, Exeter, Tasmania Australia (19thJune 1994) Aran learnt to swim when he was 3, in the pool at home. He swam in a primary school competition in 2004 and was SO excited to win a blue ribbon that he exclaimed “I can’t believe my eyes or my ears”! He won 3 gold medals in the Inaugural Junior Special Olympics in Launceston in 2004 and was excited to carry the torch into his school assembly. He was school grade swimming champion, 2 yrs in a row at his high school, Launceston Christian School and represented Tasmania in the School Games in Sydney. He has also represented Tasmania in Special Olympics. Aran was honoured to receive the Ron Barassi Award in 2012, for ‘Spirit, Courage & Determination for a young person with a disability’. Aran trains hard every day with the South Esk Swim Club, under head coach, Ketrina Clarke. He is also a member of New Horizons Swim Club. He currently holds 2 DSISO open L.C World Records. He proudly represented Australia for the first time in Loano, Italy and is looking forward immensely to competing in Mexico. Aran enjoys going to TasTafe in Launceston, where he is doing a course on Work Education. In his spare time he loves to read,listen and dance to music, watch cricket and his beloved Hawthorn play AFL football on television. His family and whole community are very proud of him and his achievements.
Tahnee Afuhaamango – Darwin, Australia (27th September 1982) Born in Townsville in 1982, Tahnee, from a very early age, had a love for the water and swimming, gaining her first Certificate at 2 and a half years of age. Through her junior school years, she was involved with the Royal Life Swim and Survive programs. Tahnee represented the Northern Territory in the Pacific School Games in Perth in 1996, then in Sydney 2000. She graduated from Casuarina Secondary College in 2002, then commenced serious competition joining a swimming club. Tahnee changed clubs last year and now swims for the Palmerston and Rural Swimming Club in Palmerston, with Head Coach, Daniel Gerlach. Swimming achievements Tahnee competed at her first DSISO World Championships in Limerick, Ireland 2006 representing Tonga, (not being aware of the Australian Team opportunities, it was too late for Australian selection) and won 3 Gold 1 silver and a bronze, broke 4 world records, and was awarded the Silver Plate Award. In 2008 Tahnee was selected to represent Australia at 4th World Championships in Portugal, (7 Gold 2 Silver, and breaking 6 World records) and won the Female Champion Award. Tahnee went on to represent Australia at Taiwan 2010, Italy 2012 and was recently selected for Mexico 2014. Currently, Tahnee holds both long & short course world records. Other interests and achievements Tahnee enjoys dancing, Zumba classes, yoga, music (Michael Jackson and Jess Mauboy), going on outings or to dinner with friends (food, beautiful food!!) and reading books on Mind, Body and Spirit. She enjoys her twice weekly sessions , especially the ice baths at the NT Institute of Sport, where everyone has extended friendship to her. Tahnee loves watching cricket and tennis on TV and is a big fan of Roger Federer, that is, after her all-time idol Ian Thorpe, who she has every book and video of!! Tahnee happily lives at home with her parents, and enjoys spending time with her family.
- Winner of the 2006/07 Australian NT Young Achievers Award – Sport Category
- 2007 Rotary Shine On Award – for the most outstanding achievement by a person with a disability
- NTIS Sports Awards 2009 Finalist
- Judith Green Perpetual Trophy for swimmer with a disability who scores the most points at the NT Open & Age Championships 2006/08/09/10/11/12
- Represented the Northern Territory at Arafura International Games 2007 and 2011
- Appointed Ambassador for Disability Awareness Week NT 2011
- Joined the Vorgee for Water family as a Vorgee sponsored athlete 2012
- Pride of Australia Medal NT finalist 2012
- Appointed Ambassador for NT National YMCA Swimathon 2012 with National Ambassador James Magnussen
Tahnee will be 32 when she represents her country in Mexico 2014, and has continued to have wonderful support from the NT community, where she hopes to make them proud once more!!
Nis Heide Pinnerup – Viborg, Denmark (6th September 1991)
Nis started swimming in competitions back in 2001 when he was only 10 years old. It soon became obvious that he had great potential. He then started to take his training seriously and has worked very hard to reach the level he is at today. He is currently training 20 hours per week. Being an all-round swimmer the medley disciplines are his favorites. 2006 was Nis’s first DSISO World Games in Limerick, Ireland. He has been part of all the subsequent DSISO Championships including World , European & Danish Championships. He holds multiple World and European DSISO records. He was also awarded the “Coaches Endeavour Award” in Italy 2012 and once again given in Canada in 2018. In Truro, Canada he was the 200 IM World Champion.
Nis is very competitive. Not only does he love to compete but he also likes to win! DSISO competitions give him an opportunity to compete on an international level against his peers.
Maria Bresciani – Cremona – Italy (3rd November 1995) Maria began swimming in competitions at the age of 12 years. She competed at the age of 14 in the World Championship in Taipei. At age 15 she set her first world record in the 200m butterfly. She has improved on this record several times. Maria currently holds 3 world records in long course and 2 world records in short course. She holds multiple records in the junior category. Her coaches are Silvia Ferrari and Federico Belicchi and she belongs to Futura team of Cremona. Maria lives in a small village, Olmeneta, which is 15km from Cremona. She is a also a college student in Cremona.
Phoebe began swimming competitively 15 years ago at age 12 at interschool competitions. She is a member of the Geelong Swimming Club (GSC), Down Syndrome Swimming Australia (DSSA), INAS, Sports Inclusion Australia (SIA) and DSISO. Her coach at GSC is Sadat Hussain.
Phoebe was 17 when she was first a member of the Australian Swimming Team and competed in the 4th DSISO World Championships in Albufeira, Portugal, obtaining her first 2 T21 World Records. Since then she has competed in the next 5 DSISO World Championships: 2010 in Taipei in Taiwan, 2012 in Loano in Italy, 2014 in Morelia in Mexico, 2016 in Florence in Italy and 2018 in Truro in Canada. Phoebe has been awarded the Top Female T21 swimmer in 2010, 2012 and 2014 and runner-up in 2016 and 2018.
Phoebe was the Australian Female Team Captain in both 2012 and 2016 and in the Leadership Group in 2014 and 2018.
Phoebe currently holds 8 Open DSISO Short Course T21 World Records, 4 Masters 1 T21 World Records and 7 Open DSISO Long Course T21 World Records and 4 Masters 1 T21 World Records.
Phoebe has received many awards over the years for her swimming and community involvements. Her 2017 Australia Day Award for Young Citizen of the Year was certainly a highlight as was being a Baton Bearer for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Phoebe is into her 9th year working 3 days a week as a member of the Operations Team at the YMCA Anglesea Recreation Camp and receives a productivity based wage. She also attends a community service, Encompass, 2 days a week where she undertakes many skill based learning studies of her choice and attends many social activities.
Her very happy life is a balance of swimming; pool and open water, gym, friends and especially her boyfriend Sam of 8 years, music, movies and holidays and she is passionate and thriving on them all.
Daniel Rumsey – Pitcon, Australia (1st August 1989) Danny has been swimming since he was 8 years old, because he wanted to copy his big brother, Andrew. There has always been a friendly rivalry between the two, and that has spurred Danny on. He trains an hour away from home at Picton and has a great coach called Anna Barns. Danny currently holds 11 Short Course World Records and 7 Long Course records.
Colin Marks – Brisbane, Queensland, Australia (11thNovember, 1987) Colin started swimming when he was 10 years old. He joined Wavell Swimming Club when he was about 14 years old under the guidance of Liz Ewen (former Australian Head Coach). He is also a member of Special Olympics and Nudgee Brothers Blue Fins Masters. Colin now trains 6 times a week with Brett Glister at Aquatic Wonders Swim School and goes to the gym twice a week. Colin has competed at 5 World Championships in Durban, Limerick, Albefura, Taipei and Loano and the Invitational in Taiwan in 2007. He has gone from strength to strength over the years. Colin currently holds 2 DSISO Open SC World Records in 200 Freestyle and 25 Breaststroke. He was awarded the DSISO Top Male T21 Swimmer at the 2012 Championships in Loano, Italy. In his spare time Colin likes to play golf, go to Broncos Rugby League games, watch TV, listen to music and on outings with Multicap Social Group. He works in supported employment for Multicap, a Disability Service Group in Brisbane, travelling independently by train and bus. On Mondays, he volunteers at the local Meals-on- Wheels who cook and distribute meals to the elderly and infirmed in the community. His family are very proud of his achievements.
Pietie Bell – Worcester, Cape Province, South Africa (2nd April 1991) Pietie has been training with Coach Ingrid van der Westhuizen since the age of 14. He has been travelling to Worcester from his home town, Prince Alfred’s Hamlet, which is a distance of 65km one way. Recently the Bell family moved to Worcester. Pietie has competed in four DSISO world champs – Ireland, Portugal, Taiwan & Italy. As a junior he set the 25m Butterfly world record, which he still holds. He is looking forward to the DSISO World Champs in Mexico in 2014. Pietie is the top male swimmer with Down syndrome in South Africa. When not swimming, Pietie loves following his favourite rugby teams. He also enjoys the occasional game of golf with his father and two brothers.
Stephen Donovan – Perth, Western Australia (24th October 1989) Stephen started swimming at state championships as a teenager and at sixteen he represented Western Australia at the Pacific School Games in Melbourne. He first represented Australia at the 3rd DSISO World Down Syndrome Championships in Limerick, Ireland (2006), and since then has competed in the Invitational Games in Taipei, Taiwan (2007) and DSISO World Championships in Albufiera, Portugal (2008), Taipei, Taiwan (2010) and Loano, Italy (2012). He trains at the Perth Integrated Health Swimstrong Academy where he is coached by Kareena Preston. He is a member of the South Shore Swimming Club and was awarded Life Membership in 2009. He was nominated three times as a finalist for Swimming WA Swimmer (with disability) of the Year Award in 2007, 2009 and again in 2013. Stephen has held multiple Open T21 World Records over the years in both short course and long course events. Currently he still holds the Short Course World Record for the 200m butterfly and two Long Course World Records in the 100m and 200m butterfly. Stephen works two days a week at Activ Timber and volunteers each week at the local IGA Grocery Store and at his local Primary School. He commutes by bus and train into the city to attend TAFE, where he is doing a course in computing one half day a week. In between swimming training and gym sessions, Stephen plays Aussie Rules Football, attends body balance and strike classes, loves spending time with his girlfriend Hayley and with his friends at social club, movies and outings. He has a passion for music, is a keen dancer and an avid follower of the AFL national football competition.
Michael Qing – Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada (Mosaic Down syndrome) (23rdOctober, 1992) Michael started competitive swimming in 2004. Trains six days a week with Regina Optimist Dolphin Swim Club; once a week with Special Olympics and Level 10 training three times a week. He has competed in two DSISO World Championships – Portugal 2008 & Taipei 2010, where he won “gold” in all his events. Currently holds 16 Long Course and 16 Short Course DSISO world records. Michael was awarded the Special Olympics Canada’s Male Athlete of the Year in 2008 and 2011. He has also represented Canada as a S14 swimmer for INAS Global Game and Pan Pacific Paralympics Swimming Championship. He is working towards qualifying for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio. We wish him all the best in his endeavors to qualify for Rio and hope to see him in Mexico 2014. For further details: http://www.cdssa.ca/team/qing.htm.
Jennifer Higgins – Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa (19th January 1984) Jennifer started swimming competitively at the age of 18. She competed in the first DSISO swimming championships in Reading in 2002 where she started to establish world records. Has participated in all the DSISO championships – South Africa, Ireland, Portugal, Taipei & Italy. Over the years has been a multiple world record holder. Currently holds 4 Short Course and 7 Long Course DSISO world records. Jenna has also represented South Africa as part of the S14 swim team at Inas-Fid championships over the years. In 2006 she was awarded the prestigious South African award “Sportswoman of the Year with a Disability” competing against athletes in all disability groups. Jen’s current coach is Jean Nortje, North Durban Swimming Academy.
Billy Birchmore Billy didn’t start swimming until he was 11 – when he went on holiday it took till the last day to coax him into the water! His first competition was at 13. Once he won his first medal he was hooked! Billy then went on to win medals at the May Phillips Nationals and he was one of the only Downs who has taken a medal at the Para National age groups and he also won Gold at the Mencap LD Nationals. His first DSISO World Championship was in Loano in 2012. He took Golds in the International competition and reached a few finals. He also went on to break several World Junior Records at this event. In Mexico in 2014 he was a double World Champion winning 200 Free and 100 Fly. In the last year or so Billy has taken 5 European SC and 3 LC European Records. A few weeks ago he claimed the 100 Back SC World Record. Billy trains 6 days a week – between Sharks and London Disability, and the majority of his sessions with Orpington Ojays Swimming Club. Outside of swimming Billy has just left Marjorie McClure School and in September he will be starting at Bromley College. Billy loves nothing more than socialising with his friends and going out with his big sister. Billy’s interests are mainly sport. He plays golf and cricket but loves football and he plays for Charlton Upbeats, he is also a fanatical Spurs supporter and loves nothing better than going to watch them.
Ellen takes part in Down Syndrome Swimming and Para-swimming. She has an S14 Para-swimming classification which means she competes with others who have learning disabilities. She has been swimming since she was a baby but started competing 2 years ago.
Ellen trains in the pool 8 hours a week and also does land training to improve her core strength. She trains mainly with Newcastle Swim Team but is also a member of the North East Disability Swim Club (Freeman Quays, Durham) and was invited to join the Down Syndrome Swimming GB team in January 2017.
Since she joined the GB team she has achieved phenomenal success in only a short space of time. In October 2017 she travelled to Paris with the team, won 7 gold and 1 silver medal and became the female Mosaic Down Syndrome European Champion. She also helped the GB team become the overall European Champions. In July 2018 she travelled to Nova Scotia, Canada with the team and once again won 7 gold and 1 silver medals and became the female Mosaic Down Syndrome World Champion. She also helped the team take 2nd place in the World Championships.
Ellen competes at National level in Para-swimming competitions and has won a number of top 3 age group medals. She is also the holder of multiple short and long course, Junior and Open, Mosaic Down Syndrome World Records.
In 2019 Ellen is travelling to Sardinia with the Down Syndrome GB team to take part in the European Championships and defend her European title. Her long-term goal is to compete in the Paralympics.
Sport has brought so much to Ellens’ life particularly friendships, fitness, confidence and the feeling of being valued and achieving despite having a disability.