Countdown to the Games
17-25 June 2023

With Unified Relay at Swimming World Cup

On the photo you can see all participants of the Unified Relay who took part in the FINA Swimming World Cup in Berlin. They are famous professionals together with a Special Olympics swimming team from Berlin.
Joerg Brueggemann / OSTKREUZ

Our Special Olympics swimmers experienced something special: they competed in a joint relay with the stars of the scene at the FINA World Cup in Berlin – an important sign for inclusion and equality.

The good-humored group of Special Olympics athletes arrived early at the SSE (swimming and diving hall in the Europasportpark), where the swimming competitions will also take place next year at the Special Olympics World Games.

So there was still enough time to get a taste of the World Cup and warm up next to the professionals before the relay teams started.

The photo shows a cheering scene at the Swimming World Cup in Berlin. An SO athlete and professional swimmer Sarah Wellbrock smile and cheer together before they start their Unified relay.
Joerg Brueggemann / OSTKREUZ

Some nerves where showing, but everyone mastered their course well and visibly enjoyed the minutes in the spotlight. This was also helped by the Berlin audience, which loudly supported all the swimmers.

Also joining the fun: Sarah and Florian Wellbrock. As soon as they climbed out of the pool, you could see the sheer joy of their participation. Cheers, high fives, hugs: Athletes among themselves, hugging and joking.

Still in their swimwear, Sarah and Florian Wellbrock then talked about their first experiences with Special Olympics and what they can learn from the athletes.

Sports and swimming bring people together – that's what the experience with Special Olympics showed once more.
Sarah Wellbrock
German professional swimmer

"I'm always totally good at letting go in these encounters. Actually, I'm rather, let's say, stuffy, and I try to meet the expectations of my counterpart perfectly. With the Special Olympics athletes, I can let go of that.

It doesn't matter at all if I'm not perfect. I'm accepted just the way I am, no matter what quirks and flaws I bring with me. That's totally valuable," Florian Wellbrock describes his experience.

Sarah Wellbrock adds, "Sports and swimming bring people together – that's what the experience with Special Olympics showed once more."

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Unified Relay at the FINA Swimming World Cup

The teams in the order in which they swam:

Team 1
Matthew Sates
Sarah Wellbrock
Dirk Barteld
Anne Richter

Team 2
Florian Wellbrock
Hali Flickinger
Claudia Gobels
Kai-Jürgen Ponisch

Team 3
Thomas Ceccon
Isabel Gose
Dominic Klug
Claudia Wolfsteller

Team 4
Lukas Märtens
Anastasia Gorbenko
Lukas Dietrich
Doreen Glaubitz

Now it only remains to say: Thank you to all involved for this great evening!


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