This autistic swim team proved everyone wrong


When Mike McQuay Jr., an 18-year-old with autism, was growing up, the place he felt most safe and calm was in his parents’ backyard pool.

“We’d take him to the mall and he would get overloaded with sensory issues from all the fluorescent lights and crowds,” says his mom, Maria McQuay, 50. “But when he’d come home, going in the water really soothed him.”

Now a college freshman at Middlesex Community College in Edison, NJ, Mike’s swimming is more than calming exercise. He might soon be competing with neurotypical peers — those not on the autism spectrum — as part of Team USA. Depending on the success of his trials, he aims to swim at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Mike’s inspiring story is being told in the new documentary film “Swim Team,” showing as part of the ReelAbilities Film Festival, which celebrates people with disabilities and runs Thursday through Wednesday at JCC Manhattan.

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Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

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