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      Special Olympians paddling to win their first Paddleboard race

      LEXINGTON (WACH) -- It was a perfect day for Special Olympians to try out their new talents in the first Special Olympics paddleboard race.

      Racers hit the waves paddling just under a mile, racing against each other on Lake Murray.

      The athletes have spent several weeks training with head coach Tia Gamelin.

      During those weeks Gamelin has seen significant changes in the athletes' social and emotional skills and with a coaching staff full of therapists, they're using yoga to help the competitors balance better and build their core muscles.

      "When you have low muscle tone that's typical of people with down syndrome, you lack the muscles that kinda keep your body in that mid range control, which are your core muscles and this is a sport, it's a fun thing to do that precisely works on those areas that are very challenging for people with special needs," adds Gamelin.

      While the athletes are digging deep with their paddles, Gamelin knows the fun they're having is key for their lifelong health and well being.

      "There are days when everybody comes off the boards and nobody is wet because they spent two hours on the boards paddling and never once fell in and that's pretty remarkable for anybody," adds Gamelin.

      "This is so cool to be on this team because I see all my friends and the great coaches, the great volunteers that come out and give there time to us. It's what we are more thankful for," concludes Travis Lutheran.