19-year-old Ronald Nagel will compete in the 100-yard butterfly. He will likely come in last, but his value to the team comes not in seconds or points, but in inspiration.
"He's made the best of what he's got. And he's just going to continue doing that the rest of his life," said,coach Henry Hammonds
Ron has Down Syndrome. But while the condition does affect physical growth and mental abilities, it does not impede spirit, determination, will, and bravery. These are all characteristics exhibited by Ron every day.
"I never pray for anything. I always move fast. My only speed is to move fast," said Ron, adding he never even considers not making it all the way.
Wednesday night marks Marple Newtown's final home meet of the season. The team is competing against its biggest rival, the St. Alban's Swim Club of Newtown Square.
It also happens to be Ron's final meet of his career for Marple Newtown, he's been swimming here since he was seven years old.
Ron's parents always intended to treat their son like anyone else.
"There's a preconceived notion what Down Syndrome is, and we just break all the molds. Because he is the one that shows, 'I'm just like everyone else,'" said Ron's mother, Suzanne.
The other swimmers say Ron's spirit pushes them to do their best. "He's working hard and we don't have an excuse to go easy. We have to work hard, too," said teammate Maryann Uhlman.
His teammates say they will miss Ron, and remember him. And that memory is enhanced by the Ron Nagel Inspirational Award.
Last year he was the first recipient. This year, another name will join his on the award's plaque.