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8-year-old para-swimmer breaking, setting records nationally

By Kent Taylor

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    LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (WLKY) — Eight-year-old Malcolm MacIntyre is always on the move. The third-grade student spends a few hours a week at the Northeast YMCA. His happy place is in the water.

“It’s very interactive and you have exercise and you do a lot of things in there,” Malcolm said.

“The water has always been a great equalizer for him,” Doug MacIntyre, Malcolm’s father, said. “You know we all float in the water.”

His swim coach is two-time Olympian and former UofL star Joao De Lucca. They have been working together for almost a year.

“The first impression I had was how comfortable he felt in the water,” De Lucca said. “Just freely moving up and down. He looked like a little fish.”

“He’s great at everything he does,” Malcolm’s twin sister Helen said. “But I think swimming is one of the best things that he can do.”

Malcolm started para-swimming when he was 4 and, in a year, had learned all four strokes from Gwena Herman, the coach of the Bennett Blazers. The Blazers are based in Baltimore, Maryland.

The MacIntyre family moved to Louisville after having such a positive experience at Frazier Rehab.

When Malcolm was 14 months old, doctors discovered a tumor on his spine.

“When we found it, they rushed him for emergency surgery,” Malcolm’s mom, Kalyn, recalls. “We removed it, but the resection of the tumor caused paralysis.”

The pool has served as therapy and also as a confidence builder.

This summer, Malcolm joined the Blazers at a para-swimming event in Hoover, Alabama. Participants have to qualify for the Move United Hartford Nationals. Malcolm qualified for 17 events, including seven individual swimming events. That is the maximum number allowed. He also swam on a relay team.

He won all seven individual events and the relay.

“These medals came from my very first para-nationals, with my Bennett Blazers,” Malcolm said, with the medals draped over his neck. “I have eight gold medals!”

He spent the summer swimming for Owl Creek Country Club, including in the City Meet. Whenever he swims against able-bodied kids, he inspires an electric reaction from the crowd. From the parents and the other swimmers.

“This community of people was inspired,” Kalyn said, “supporting him and cheering him on, and all the kids would do it too, and it’s such a beautiful thing to see everybody kind of react that way.”

“It’s just how big his heart is and the will, desire he has,” DeLucca said. “I think he inspires everyone around him.”

“I feel really happy when I feel like I inspire people,” Malcolm said.

He better get used to it. He’s going to be doing it for a while.

His goal is to win gold at the Paralympics someday.

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