"Ah, Mom! Now?"
It's Thursday night at the Hickman High School pool, and Jill Cinciripini just wants to get back to the water. She dries off a finger and holds it out for the pinprick. "Ouch," she says, pushing the crimson drop to the surface.
"OK," says Judy, her mom. "You have another half-hour." Jill smiles and hurriedly walks back to her lane. She pushes off for another lap.
Twice a week, the 24-year-old goes to Hickman pool to swim with the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department's adaptive sports program. Jill knows she has to stay on top of her diabetes, but she still hates to interrupt her swim time. Shooting her hand high in the air, she's always the first to volunteer to swim another round of laps.
Jill has been swimming for 10 years and has been competing almost as long for Special Olympics teams in Columbia. Summer, fall and winter, she's involved in bocce ball, bowling and swimming. "She has a different group of friends in each sport," Judy says. "She likes the social part, but when she gets to those state games, she turns on the competitiveness." Between quality time with friends and winning competitions, Jill's priorities are clear. "Winning!" she says.
"She's got a shoebox full of medals," her father, Dale, adds, beaming.
After an exhausting workout of conditioning laps, Jill leaves the water and wraps a bright towel around her floral suit. "It's cool," she says of her participation in the swim program. She's a woman of few words tonight as she explains where her favorite swimming spot is: "The ocean!"
Judy looks surprised. "Why is the ocean your favorite?" she asks.
Jill's eyes light up, her smile broadens. "Dolphins!" she exclaims.
"One day," her mom says, "one day, we'll swim with the dolphins."
Jill nods, her smile still radiant, her eyes alive with the thought.
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- Julia Robinson
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