Athlete of the Season: Adam Hays

If you have been following Special Olympics Maryland for a while, you may remember a monthly feature we used to do called Athlete of the Month. Well, we have revamped it and switched it to Athlete of the Season because honestly, a month goes by really quickly 🙂. Each Athlete of the Season will feature an interview with the athlete and a piece created by the athlete, whether that be a blog, vlog, or artwork, however they want to express themselves, that’s what you’ll see. And this season we are kicking it off with a familiar face, Adam Hays. Check out 30 Questions with Adam Hays and don’t forget to check out his Swim Season Blog – it’s great (trust us, but also go see for yourself)!

Adam’s Swim Blog (with a side of cycling)

April 17th, 2023

Hi Everyone! Thanks for reading my blog and watching how I train leading up to the Special Olympics Maryland Summer Games in Swimming later this June! My name is Adam Hays and I am a Special Olympics Maryland multi-sport athlete from Frederick, Maryland! I have been competing in Special Olympics since 1995 and continue to compete (and work) in the organization that has given me a voice through all the sports and leadership opportunities I have been afforded.

I am currently competing in 6 sports throughout the year, Cycling and Soccer being my favorite. But, as of this past Sunday, I am now in full training mode for the Special Olympics Maryland Summer Games at Towson University in Towson, Maryland. I’m going to take you on a little journey of how I have been training for the Summer Games in Swimming! The season officially kicked off back on Sunday, March 19th, but I couldn’t start yet because I had been recovering from surgery the month prior, and I was told not to get in the pool until after Easter so that I could be completely recovered. So, in the meantime, to get ready for swim practice, I took a walk almost every day leading up to my first practice, and since it’s been warming up, I have ridden my bike 6 times, ranging between 11-20 miles every time I have gone out!  That will help with my stamina and speed, that’s for sure.

Also, I have been doing some stretching to help make it so I wouldn’t be so sore when in the pool.

So, last night on Sunday, April 16th was my first swim practice at Hood College in their swim bubble.  Before I went to the pool in the evening, it was a nice day, so I took my bike out and road 23.02 miles around Frederick, all within 2 hours, 9 minutes, and 37 seconds. I moved around 11 miles per hour and took only a couple of stops of water in between. When I got back and took a half-hour rest, I got myself ready and headed over to practice. Since I live right across the street from where the practice is, I usually warm up a little by walking over and stretching while I walk. It was really cool to see a lot of my teammates from last year, including my coaches and some new faces as well.

When I got in the bubble and got ready, I sat and waited until I was told I could get in the pool.

I had my own lane, so that made it really great for getting my training done. The coach had me start out by doing 6 laps, or 300 yards. The water was a little chilly when I got in, but I quickly got used to it as I started to swim freestyle up and down the lane, just to loosen my muscles up. I’m happy I brought my water bottle because even if you are swimming in water, you still need to drink it to keep your energy up since you’re exercising.

Then the coach had me do another 100 yards (4 laps), but a little faster.  That felt good and my goggles and swim cap stayed on without an issue.

Finally, I did another 4 laps of breaststroke. Our practice was cut about a half hour short due to an unfortunate incident, so I didn’t get in a full hour of practice. But, that’s okay, I still got in some good laps and a great day of biking.  I can’t wait to share with you what I did with training next week!

April 23rd, 2023

Over the last week, I have kept myself very busy with training. I got in 34 miles between 2 rides and I did 3 miles of walking. I’m trying to increase my mileage by 3 or more times a week, so I can keep on track for my yearly goal of 1,200 miles!  Aside from that in swimming, I got in about 30 laps give or take, doing 100-150 yards (4-6 laps) each! It felt great to get in a full hour of swimming. We even practiced diving a few times. I’m not great at diving, but I’m trying! I avoided doing belly flops, but I am trying to remind my body to straighten my legs as I jump in. Not really sure how to achieve that because if I put my legs out, I always seem to belly flop.  Oh well, I’m going to keep trying! Stay tuned for more and see you next week!

May 1st, 2023

Well, it’s been raining a lot, but I still have been getting my rides and walking in between the rainy days.  Most of the time, I just walk a mile-and-a-half to 2-mile loop around my apartment complex to down by my old high school.  I got in probably 5 miles of walking over the last week.  But, when it was sunny out I got in 30 miles of bike riding between 3 different rides.  Unfortunately, I was supposed to go swimming practice again yesterday, but it got canceled because the pool was closed again for some reason.

Maybe I can go over to the YMCA and get in an hour of swimming before my first swim qualifier in Allegany County next week.  Let’s keep this up!

May 8th, 2023

On this week of Adam’s Swimming and Biking adventures, he’s been getting more and more mileage in and had a qualifier! That’s right, I swam really hard on Saturday at Frostburg State University. I competed in the 50-meter Freestyle, 100-meter Freestyle, 4×50-meter Freestyle, and 50-meter Breaststroke. I came home with 2 Golds, 2 Silvers, and a Bronze! It was a long ride to get out there, but totally worth it. Then, I had swim practice the next day, on Sunday, where I continued training and did a few really good dives off the block. Diving has never been my strong suit, I’m always worried I’m going to belly flop, but I keep trying!

Also, I continue walking almost daily, between 1-3 miles every time I am out.  Just over this week, I walked 10 miles.  I didn’t really get on my bike this week because it was so cool and I don’t do very well riding in colder/rainier conditions.  I’ll be back on my bike though, count on it!

May 15th, 2023

Will this rain ever stop on the weekends? One rainy weekend after another. Oh well, I am still getting in tons of walking. Luckily, there was a day or 2 out of the week that I got between 10-15 miles of bike riding 3 different times, totaling up to 39 miles of bike riding and 11 miles of walking. Last night at swim practice I pushed myself as the coach was timing me. I feel like I did 30 laps like usual, but we did a few speed runs as well. I don’t know my times, but I do know I was swimming at competition speed with my 50-meter breaststroke and 100-meter Freestyle. I’m sore and tired today, but that’s okay because it helps me get better!

My diving is doing okay too. I just can’t figure out how to dive without curling my legs, as I leap off the diving board. I think part of that is because I am always afraid I’m going to belly flop and I don’t have enough reaction time between going off the block and entering the water. I hope I can figure out that someday, but the coach still says I’m doing great.

May 22nd, 2023

This has been a busy week of exercise! I started out by doing 3 miles of walking around my neighborhood, even if it was a little cool that day. Then, the next day I took a short ride before some rain came in, with 7 miles. What was weird though was that toward the end of my ride, my rear wheel started screeching. Then the wheel was rubbing up against the brake. Luckily, I was only a couple of blocks away, so I walked back to my apartment with my bike. The next 2 days, I took another easy 2-mile walk on both days.

My bike was fine after that weird incident, so I got out for another 15-mile bike ride which only took an hour and a half.  It was nice because I rode from my apartment, to the airport, and around town. Finally finishing with a 2-mile walk around the neighborhood like I do.

Not to mention, I also had a swim qualifier at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Montgomery County!  It was a qualifier I needed because I only had one Swim Meet under my belt. You need two swim qualifiers in order to go to the Special Olympics Summer Games. I don’t know my times with my events, but I did get two events in the 100m Freestyle and 50m Breaststroke. I didn’t get disqualified in the Breaststroke either, which made me happy. The next day, I went to swim practice and got in 30 laps and a couple of dives in again.  Always pushing hard!

May 29th, 2023

So this week was a little easier than last. I still got in a bunch of good rides. Monday, I noticed my back wheel was making a lot of noise after riding 14 miles.  So, I just took a 2-mile walk the next two days and tried riding 17 miles again that following Saturday. Nice day, but my rear wheel was screeching like crazy. I thought it might have been my chain, but turns out my back wheel was a little warped, from possibly going over a small hole in the road. I took one more 12-mile ride (adding up to 43.5 miles). I even did a Memorial Day ride around the area visiting some of the soldier graves in Mount Olivet Cemetary on Memorial Day. But, I wanted to get this bike checked out and figure out why the wheel was making so much noise. We went to my local bike shop and they fixed the brake and wheel where it was happening and now it’s good again!

No swimming this week due to Memorial Day, but I kept moving no matter what.

June 11th, 2023

The swim season is going strong leading up to Summer Games and I am practicing to improve each week! Small detour for this week, check out a recent practice speech I did as a part of the Special Olympics Maryland Athlete Speaker Series with the topic being “Lessons in Sports!”

June 26th, 2023

What a fantastic week! I’m wiped, but it was so much fun. I certainly have a ton to catch up on, with 3 exciting things that happened. The Brave In the Attempt Talks, Torch Gala, and the Special Olympics Maryland Summer Games at Towson University!

Friday through Sunday was the Special Olympics Maryland Summer Games at Towson University and I competed in Swimming doing the 50m Free, 4x50y Free, and the 50y Breaststroke on Saturday, and the 100y Free on Sunday.

Friday, when I came to campus, I started the games by going to the Special Olympics Maryland Board meeting, then joined Special Olympics Maryland – Frederick County as we walked out for the Opening Ceremonies, where I saw so many of my friends.

Then, Saturday, the competition began, where I competed in my first 3 events. Unfortunately, a severe thunderstorm came through and push most of my events, so what was all spread-out events, turned into 3 back to back to back events. My first event was the 50-yard Freestyle, coming in 6th at 1:00.84. Not the fastest, I’ve done, but I shaved a second off of my qualifying time!

My 2nd event was the 50y Breaststroke, and I got the BRONZE with a time of 1:10:17. Out of ALL my events, this one was the one I was most excited for because, for the last couple of years at states, I got disqualified in this event, but this time I DIDN’T!!!

Then, the 4x50y Free Relay was right after that and our team got disqualified, but we all pushed really hard even so!

The next day, was my last event, the 100y Free and I came in 5th with a time of 2:20.30, just 3 seconds off my qualifying time. I was pretty wiped from the events from the day before, but I pushed so hard.

It was so much fun seeing all my Law Enforcement Torch Run family and all my Special Olympics Maryland friends from across the state. Oh, and as always, thanks to my Mom, Marianne, for coming to always cheer me on! Best Mom ever! Today, I’m resting and thankful for all the awesome opportunities I had all week to LEAD THE WAY!

Check out 30 Questions with Adam Hays at the 2023 Summer Games Swimming Competition!