With impaired bodies though, they still dare to cleave the waters in preparation for regional and international competitions.
The daily exercise in Bogota helps these ex-soldiers of Colombia show their nascent bravery and temporarily forget about the physical disabilities inflicted by war.
(Soundbite) Diego Cuesta, Mine Victim of Colombia Military
“I went to Canada and won two gold medals and one bronze at the match there. The two gold medals were the first two in the history of the (Colombian) army at the Paralympics of the Pan American Games.”
The initiative to incorporate afflicted soldiers into a team under the Colombian Paralympics Committee emerged in 2003, thanks to the private and non-profit Matamoros Corporation.
It has dedicated itself to the welfare of wounded members of the security forces since 1986.
(Soundbite) Miguel Angel Otero, Team Coach.
“It lowers their stress, which comes from long-time confinement in wheelchairs. They have fun and get distracted from their pain. Here are no ranks. All are just athletes.”
Currently about 67 percent of the people with disabilities in Colombia belong to the military forces.
The Matamoros Corporation expects that in five years, 50 percent of its athletes will be made up of ex-soldiers and police officers crippled by conflicts.