Horn loves team aspect of swimming


Torrie Cross

Matt Horn, senior, receives instruction from Stephan Matthews, para-educator, during practice.

Max Stoneking, Sports editor

No matter if he is in the halls at school or in the pool, Matt Horn, senior, is always smiling.

Horn has Down Syndrome and also competes for the swim team, which may seem unusual to some people.

However, this is his second year on the team ,and he really enjoys it.

“He loves being one of the guys on the team,” Debbie Horn, his mother, said.

Horn was elated when his senior banner went up with the other four senior’s on the team.

Assistant coach Eddie Toplikar worked with Horn all last season on his freestyle. This season, he is already 15 seconds faster in the 50-yard freestyle than he was last year.

That includes a seven second time drop at a meet against Blue Valley North and Blue Valley Southwest on Jan. 8.

Any swimmer on the team will agree that Horn is always in a good mood and that he brings a positive attitude to the team.

“If you’re having a bad day, he’ll pick you up,” Luke Wardle, junior, said.

Coming into high school, Horn loved to be around water and also wanted to be part of an athletic team at school. With that love for water, swimming appeared to be the best fit.

He has worked day in and day out to be the best swimmer he can be.

“I have never heard him say that he didn’t want to go to the daily two-hour practices,” Horn’s mother said.

At practice, Horn can be found socializing with teammates during stretches. He is always trying to fulfill his role on the team.

The meet in Manhattan on Jan. 14 provided a big challenge. He swam the 100 freestyle and the 400 freestyle relay, which is more yardage than he is accustomed to doing at a meet.

But, Horn was excited to do so.

According to Horn, “freestyle” is his favorite stroke and the 50 freestyle is his favorite event.

He usually swims the 50 freestyle and the 200 freestyle relay at meets.

“He has worked really hard to improve his skill level and times,” Horn’s mother said.

Horn receives a lot of support from the coaches and his teammates whether it is at a meet or at practice.

Often times, the entire team will gather around the end of the lane to cheer him on. He claims that it gives him an extra boost during the race.

Being able to compete on relay teams helps him feel even more a part of the swim family.

“He likes wearing the team uniform and the support he gets is very encouraging for him,” Horn’s mother said.

Matt Horn has brought positivity to the swim team, and that is an important thing for any team to have.