Mt. Airy native Zach Shattuck and Baltimore’s Connor Gioffreda are two of our county’s best swimmers.
They both swim at Frostburg State, both have dwarfism and both will be representing the United States at the Para Swimming World Championships in Mexico City.
“It’s amazing. Two kids from a small Division III school in Western Maryland are going to the World Championships. I don’t think that’s ever happened or may ever happen again. So, to be part of that is pretty awesome,” said Shattuck. “Getting to represent Maryland, it’s my state. I love my state. Then to get to represent your country too at these games, it’s a great feeling.”
“It’s just an honor to represent the red, white and blue,” said Gioffreda. “I hope to do well for my country. I hope to bring back a medal.”
Both 21-year-old Zach and 18-year-old Connor have competed internationally before. But this will be the biggest meet of their lives.
Said Gioffreda: “For opening ceremony I’m going to be like ‘Wow. I’m here now. I trained for this.’”
“It will be breathtaking, honestly. You’ll walk out and you’ll just be star struck at the atmosphere,” added Shattuck.
The duo is just the latest in a long line of Paralympic swimmers from Baltimore, joining names like Jessica Long, Becca Meyers and Brad Snider just to name a few. Long and Meyers are also heading to the World Championships. It’s clear our area is leading the way in developing para athletes for the pool.
“Baltimore, in general, that’s one of the birthplaces of para swimming,” said Shattuck.
“I feel honored to be in the Maryland community, to be with all these amazing athletes that have done so much,” said Gioffreda.
Now Connor and Zach get their chance on the grand stage and they have a message for anyone who aspires to be great just like them.
“Go do it. You just have to put in the effort, put in the dedication and you’ll be the best in the world if you do that,” said Gioffreda.
“I think that if people average-sized, dwarf, amputee, Paralympic swimmer, just an athlete in general, if you are striving to achieve something or you have a goal in mind then go for it,” said Shattuck. “You just got to go all out. Just make the best of it.”
The date of the Mexico City 2017 World Championships is postpoined due to the Mexico City Earthquake.
— Shawn Stepner (@StepnerABC2) September 20, 2017
Follow ABC2 News on-air and online to see when the championships are postponed to.