WILBRAHAM, Mass. (WWLP) – A Special Olympian from western Massachusetts is going to the USA Games to represent the state.

Anne DeForge started swimming in 2016, joining the Special Olympics as a way to socialize with others. But now it’s so much more than that, it’s also her favorite thing to do. From Indian Orchard, Anne swims with the Pioneer Valley Swim organization. Anne likes the Special Olympics because of her friends and coaches, but the numerous medals don’t hurt either.

She’s one of only five swimmers going to represent Massachusetts at the USA Games. But she says she couldn’t do it without her support team of family and coaches.

“I just feel like I want to be swimming a lot because it’s my favorite thing to do. A little nervous but excited for my first national game,” Anne DeForge told 22News.

In a humid pool at the Scantic Valley YMCA, 22News met Anne DeForge. She only started swimming in 2016, when her sister Nicole signed her up for the Special Olympics as a way to meet new people.

“It’s a little bit of craziness. It’s a lot of fun, the group of people that you meet, it’s such an amazing group of kids, adults, young adults. The outlook that everybody has on life there, it’s an amazing group of people,” said Nicole.

Anne’s coaches and family say they’ve seen her improve so much since the beginning, that this placement is well deserved. Their favorite thing has been teaching her the flip turn.

“I’m very excited that Annie has perfected the flip turn. I feel really grateful to be a part of that. maybe just the first little spark. because hearing all the other amazing coaches she has and community collaborators, it was just the spark,” said Dawn Lapierre, Healthy Living Director at Scantic Valley YMCA.

“Being able to do the flip turn is a big deal. Most athletes can’t do that. Her will to learn, her spirit of community with friends here. That’s a big part of Special Olympics,” said Sherrie Jonah, Trainer at YMCA and a 20-year Special Olympics Volunteer.

“Just focus on your dreams.”

Anne DeForge, USA Games Special Olympian for Team Massachusetts

Special Olympics USA starts in Orlando, Florida on June 5th. Good luck, Annie and all the Massachusetts athletes.