Statistics show that drowning is a leading cause of accidental death in children with special needs. Opportunities for adults with special needs diminish after the age of 21, leaving many sedentary, lonely, and often times unhealthy, overweight and depressed. Caretakers of children with special needs have higher percentages of anxiety and depression. The facts are scary, but they motivate so much of what we do. 

Teaching children and adults with special needs provides innumerable benefits, from muscle strength to motor skills, from socialization to relaxation, from basic safety to self-confidence. Our participants are able to develop physical fitness, build confidence, establish friendships, and experience the pride and joy of being part of a team. The results have been tremendous, and the stories speak for themselves. 


Success Stories



Pam is the only member of her family who can swim. Her grandmother and mother are both afraid of the water, and when Pam was young she was not allowed to go in the water beyond her knees. Now she is a Special Olympian and the proud recipient of Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals. 

“When Pam became involved with Special Olympics, she was asked to be on a swim team.  I was the one who was nervous. The coach worked with her every week, and before long she was not only swimming but swimming on her back and swimming freestyle. We are so proud of her and so thankful for the Dolphins swim coaches.  We love the Dolphins!”  - Mary Inman



Alaina is learning to swim. She loves it. She loves the water, she loves splashing, she loves the feeling of getting stronger and more capable. Alaina also just loves the attention. This is a place where she is wholly celebrated. 

“Every volunteer shows such love toward and acceptance of Alaina, giving of their time and talents to help her grow as a confident swimmer. Alaina has progressed in her swimming during her time with Nashville Dolphins, but the amount of fun and excitement she experiences each week is the best reward.  It puts a smile on all of our faces.” - Kristen Kindoll 


Benjamin and Noah

Benjamin and Noah are twins with autism, a diagnosis that often made them feel like outsiders. But from their first practice with the Nashville Dolphins, Benjamin and Noah found their place. They fit in with their teammates and found that they could be themselves without judgment or shame. Not only have they become competitive swimmers, they have learned the importance of sportsmanship and the joy of accomplishment. 

“To say that the Dolphins is just a swim team would be an understatement.  Not only do the boys receive instruction, support and learn a great healthy skill, we as parents receive so much, too:  a community of families who understand the struggle we all face raising kids with disabilities. And for the couple of hours a week that the boys attend practice, it is a few hours where we as parents don’t have to worry or stress that they boys are being treated unfairly, being made fun of, or being looked at strangely.  They are embraced and loved as part of a family.” - Jeremy & Amy Johnson