Liam Price could probably sense something was wrong when he showed up for his regular swim practice Tuesday night to find a tunnel of Center Grove cheerleaders waiting for him.
It turned out to be the message of her life.
Price was greeted by Special Olympics Indiana CEO Jeff Mohler, who informed the Center Grove graduate that he has been nominated for a spot on Team USA at the 2023 Special Olympics World Games, which will be held in Berlin next June.
“It’s a huge thing and we wanted Liam to know and appreciate it from the point of view that it’s probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Mohler said.
“There is no better representative for Team Indiana than Liam Price.”
The nominated athletes, from all sports — Price will be Indiana’s only male swimmer — will travel to San Antonio November 17-21 for the Team USA training camp, which will provide an opportunity to train and socialize before heading overseas . As many of the participants have never flown an airplane before, the camp will help them prepare for their big trip next summer.
Price is no stranger to the bright light, having won a gold medal and two silver medals for Team Indiana at the Special Olympics USA games last summer. However, the chance to represent the whole country in a major international competition is still a big deal for him.
“This is a very impressive moment, one where I held my breath to see if I would qualify,” Price said. “Not everyone gets this chance. It’s an impressive milestone for me, and this may be the only time it’s happened. I will cherish every moment.”
At the USA Games, Price finished second in the preliminary rounds in the 50-yard backstroke but upped his game in the finals, beating the top seed by 0.84 seconds to take the gold. He added second places in the 25 backstroke and 200 medley relay.
Curiously, as a student at Center Grove, Price never competed in swimming, instead serving as manager for the Trojans boys’ basketball team during the winter season. He didn’t start racing until he represented Johnson County at the 2018 Indiana Special Olympics State Games, but it wasn’t long before he got hooked; a year later he won the 25 backstroke.
He won three gold medals at the 2021 State Games after completing his freshman year as a member of the University of Indianapolis swim team. Pricing practices with both UIndy and Center Grove Aquatic Club.
Back at his alma mater Tuesday night, as a large crowd of friends and supporters cheered him on from the balcony above, Price grabbed the mic and said, “I’m going to go over there and kill it.”
That intent was announced again after the ceremony when Price was asked what he was most looking forward to about this upcoming experience.
“I’m taking some time off,” he said, “because that’s what I’m going to do all the rest of the year.”