State Swim Meet Returns to Louisville in 2024

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Continuing Renovation Move Brad Harkleroad Memorial State Swim Meet to Stand-Alone Event for Second Year

The continued renovation of Alumni Coliseum at Eastern Kentucky Univeristy means that the Brad Harkleroad Memorial State Swim Meet will return to Louisville’s Ralph J. Wright Natatorium for the second consecutive year. More than 200 swimmers from across the state will meet for the competition on May 18.

While this is the second time that the Ralph Wright Natatorium has hosted the State Swim Meet, its history with Special Olympics goes back much farther. 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 warm-ups for the developmental events at 10:45 am. Developmental competition will get underway at 11:30. Warm-ups for short course events will begin at 12:30 pm, with competition starting at 1. Relays will follow the short course competition.

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.

Beginning in 2023, the State Swim Meet was 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.

The Brad Harkleroad Memorial State Swim Meet is supported by a private donation as well as by our Year-Round Partners Jersey Mikes, Texas Roadhouse and Toyota.

For more information about the State Swim Meet or about our swimming program, please contact Kathy Marshall at 502-695-8222 or [email protected].