Owen learned to swim the butterfly stroke by watching videos of Michael Phelps

To read on Kaiser Permanente website:

Owen Ostergard, Self-Taught Swimmer With Down Syndrome, Wins Gold Medals at Special Olympics Competitions

Posted on 22. Jul, 2015 by Kaiser Permanente


When he was nine years old, Owen Ostergard surprised his parents when he jumped into his neighbor’s pool and began to do the butterfly stroke.

“I can swim like Michael Phelps!” he assured them. He had been obsessively studying Michael Phelps’ races during the 2012 Summer Olympics.

“We [recorded the races], and he watched it backwards in slow motion, and forward in slow motion. It went on for about two weeks,” said his mom Suzanne.

All that studying has paid off. Owen, now 12, recently took home two gold medals at a Special Olympics swim meet in Pasadena, Calif.

The Ostergards are grateful for the Special Olympics for giving individuals like Owen, who has Down syndrome, opportunities to shine.

“The Special Olympics has been his opportunity to be the one in the pool, versus being the one sitting in the stands watching his brother play baseball or football,” said Owen’s dad, Erik. “I think it’s important that parents just give their kids those chances; they’re going to surprise you. My son has surprised me in so many ways.”

“It’s very important for me to take care of [Owen’s] respiratory needs as an athlete,” said the Ostergards’ pediatrician, Myra Bastidas, MD. The family communicates regularly with Dr. Bastidas to make sure his lungs are in tip-top shape for competition, especially after two recent bouts of pneumonia.


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