State Swim Meet Moves from Summer Games in 2023

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Meet Named to Honor Longtime Athlete Brad Harkleroad

Freestyle swimmer turns to breathe during a heat at the 2022 State Summer GamesFor the first time in MANY years, the Brad Harkleroad Memorial State Swim Meet will not be held as part of the annual State Summer Games in Richmond in 2023. The State Meet will take place Friday and Saturday, May 19-20 at the Ralph J. Wright Natatorium at the University of Louisville . The move was made necessary by the renovation of the Alumni Coliseum complex at Eastern Kentucky University, which houses the pool that has hosted the State Swim Meet at the Summer Games for more than 25 years. It is expected  that the move will last at least through 2024 and may continue through the 2025 meet.

While this is the first time that the Ralph Wright Natatorium has hosted the State Swim Meet, it is no stranger to Special Olympics competition. The facility has hosted a Special Olympics swim meet every year we have held a full swimming season since it was opened in 2003.

The meet will open with developmental events and relays on Friday, May 19. Athlete warm-ups will begin at about 6 pm, with competition starting at 6:30. The Meet continues early on Saturday, May 20, with individual events. Warm-ups will start at 8:15 with events starting at 9 am.

Brad Harkleroad sits with a towel around his waist and a swimming gold medal around his neck at the 2019 State Summer Games.
Brad Harkleroad at the 2019 State Summer Games.

The State Swim Meet is named in memory of longtime Special Olympics Kentucky athlete and standout swimmer Brad Harkleroad of Louisville. Brad competed in Special Olympics for more than 40 years. In addition to swimming, he competed in bowling, softball, track and field, equestrian, skiing and golf. His true loves in Special Olympics were skiing and, of course, swimming. Brad excelled in the butterfly, which he swam in the Special Olympics World Summer Games in 1991 in Minneapolis and in the World Down Syndrome Swimming Championships in Portugal in 2008. He also competed at the Special Olympics National Invitational Golf Tournament and skied at the 1985 World Winter Games in Park City, Utah. As great an athlete as Brad was, he was a greater ambassador for Special Olympics. He was a fixture at events like the Texas Roadhouse Armadillo Classic and the Kentucky Wireless Association Golf Outing, making friends wherever he went. Most importantly, Brad spread joy wherever he went. We lost Brad last summer. He will always be missed by everyone who knew him.