Brothers with autism swim with confidence

February 28, 2013 3:38:11 PM PST
When you watch the Wissahickon Swim team practice, you can't help but notice the dynamic duo of brothers Dan and Will Haggerty who had quite the debut season.

The 17 and 15-year-old are as close as two can be, down to their struggles with autism.

But in the pool, they thrive.

So Coach John High suggested they come out for the team.

The result, says their mom, is an experience she didn't think her sons would ever have.

"Over the years, it's been hard, but situations like this, having the chance to let them shine and show some skills. We knew they could swim, we just didn't know they could swim on this level. It was the most incredible experience," Susan Haggerty said.

"For them to compete in a varsity sport and earn points for their team is really wonderful," assistant Lisa Hacking said.

Hacking helps the boys understand certain concepts at practice.

While their teammates have embraced them, which was apparent from the very first meet of the season.

"They jumped out of the water and they were like 'I won.' As they walked down the deck, I turned and the entire team was there giving them high fives, and hugs. It was totally unprompted and extremely heartwarming," Coach High said.

"We were all standing up on the sideline just cheering for them. It was a very happy moment for all of us because it was their first race," team captain Luke Waechter said.

"My heart skips a beat every time. They're looking around, high-fiving everyone saying 'you did a good job, I did a good job.' They're just unbelievably proud of themselves," team captain Greg Beyer said.

This is proof that sometimes, it doesn't matter if you finish first to be a true champion.