Updated: 05/12/17 : 06:01:30
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Mona McSharry goes Polar for Special Olympics

Sligo’s World Champion swimmer Mona McSharry will have a unique way of preparing for this year’s European Short Course Championships – the Special Olympics Connaught Polar Plunge in Rosses Point this Saturday.

The Grange native was named among a 10-strong team to fly out to Copenhagen next week in a bid to cap off a stellar 2017. Since becoming Ireland’s first ever gold-medalist at the World Junior Championships, her hopes of reaching Tokyo 2020 received a major boost when he was awarded an Olympic Solidarity Scholarship.

She was also named Swim Ireland’s Female Performance Athlete of the Year 2017 and added two more Irish records to her achievements in October.


The Marlins swimmer has also taken the time to give back to sport in 2017 and signed on as an ambassador with Special Olympics Connaught. This Saturday’s Polar Plunge is a vital fundraiser for people with intellectual disabilities in the region and Mona says getting “Freezin’ for a reason” fits in perfectly with her lifestyle.

“I love the sea,” she said at the launch of this year’s Polar Plunge. “If I’m not in the pool, I’m definitely in the ocean. It’s cold but it’s great to just get in. We have a small boat so we do a bit of skiing and a bit of surfing.”

“Once you get in, it’s fine,” is her advice for those nervous about taking the plunge this weekend.

Acknowledged

Special Olympics Connaught Regional Director Myra Merrick says it will bring everything that’s good about Special Olympics together in Sligo:

“Athletes are at the heart of the event, with volunteers making sure, plungers, families and fundraisers have a great time. Ocean temperatures are 11.1 degrees and the air temperature is forecast to be less than four degrees, so technically it will be warmer in the water!”

Myra also acknowledged the role of the Garda Siochana in the event, who are behind the Law Enforcement Torch Run. The LETR is the awareness and fundraising programme of An Garda Síochána and the PSNI supporting the Special Olympics movement in Ireland.




















Pictured at the launch of Special Olympics Connaught Polar Plunge 2017 at Rosses Point Sligo are (Left to Right): Mona McSharry, Garda David Hannon (Law Enforcement Torch Run) Mascot Bear Chillls and Myra Merrick (Special Olympics Connaught).

2018 is a massive year for Special Olympics Connaught. 225 athletes and 95 coaching and management volunteers from the region will head to Dublin for four days in June for the Special Olympics Ireland Games. 13 sports will feature in venues such as the National Indoor Arena, the National Aquatic Arena and Morton Stadium.

Connaught’s representatives were selected from regional advancement events over the past 12 months – a lucky few will go on to compete at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi in 2019.

Those who think they are brave enough to take the Polar Plunge can register at www.specialolympics.ie/polarplunge. Registration costs just €20 with plungers asked to raise an additional €50.

All money raised goes directly to supporting athletes with intellectual disabilities in sport and competitions. Plungers who raise more than €50 will also receive a complimentary Polar Plunge T-Shirt.