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SPECIAL OLYMPICS: Goering enjoys experience
Eastside alumnus set personal records in 2022 games
Cole Goering set personal records in the 50 and 100 freestyle swim competitions of the 2022 U.S. Special Olympic Games. - photo by Special to The News

COVINGTON, Ga. — Cole Goering recently competed in the 2022 U.S. Special Olympic Games held in Orlanda, Florida, and set personal records in the 50 and 100 freestyle swim competitions placing him fourth and sixth, respectively. 

Cole’s mom, Dawn, credited his hardwork and perseverance to achieve such success on the national stage. But, Cole’s determination to do well came about early in his life. 

After being born premature, Cole spent nine months in the NICU, Dawn said. During that time, Cole displayed a certain willpower that caught his mom’s attention. 

“When Cole was in the NICU, Cole liked to have his head a certain way,” Dawn said. “Every time they tried to turn his head the opposite way, he was bound and determined to turn his head back the other way. So, they put a sandbag on him to keep him pinned down so he couldn’t turn his head. And I remember seeing him do a little push up in the incubator and turn his head back to the way he wanted it. 

“And I thought to myself, ‘This child is going to overcome every adversity because he is strong willed. And he is going to do whatever he sets his mind to.’” 

Cole’s swimming really took off when he became a freshman at Eastside High School. Dawn acknowledged, though, that Cole has “come tremendously far” in his swimming. 

The numbers reflect that, too. 

In the first meet of the 2019-20 season, Cole recorded a 37.56 finish in the 50 freestyle. By his senior season, Cole’s finish was 30.70. 

Cole began in the 100 freestyle with a 1:30.01 final time. He eclipsed that his final high school season by nearly 17 seconds. 

For the 100 backstroke, Cole started out with a 2:01.01 finish only to have that time down to 1:51.77 his senior year. Cole shaved about four seconds off his 100 breaststroke time from 1:54.03 his first time to 1:50.63 his senior season. 

Cole also competed in the 200 freestyle while at Eastside. His first time competing, Cole recorded a 3:09.88 finish. Almost six seconds were off his finish at 3:03.29 to close out his senior year. 

But Dawn doesn’t just want people to see the swimmer Cole is. She also wishes people will be inspired by Cole and his journey. 

“Where he started to where he is now is a complete 180,” Dawn said. “I would like to see other children who may come from a rocky start be inspired. I just hope that gives other parents hope and other kids hope. Just because you start out and your beginning is hard, doesn’t mean life is going to be hard. That just builds your character.” 

Both Cole and Dawn recognized that Cole didn’t take great strides of progression all on his own. Particularly with his participation in the Special Olympics, local people on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter were sharing and posting their support of Cole. 

Eastside’s swimming coach, DeAnna O’Brien traveled to Orlando to show her support for Cole in his competitions. 

Dawn recognized all the support as “fuel to the fire.” 

“I was showing him the posts where people were sharing it,” Dawn said. “I was like, ‘Look Cole, all these people are cheering for you. You’ve got the whole county behind you.’ I think that support system adds fuel to the fire and makes him want to try a little harder and dig a little deeper.” 

But Cole doesn’t plan to stop swimming with his high school career finished and this year’s Special Olympics complete. 

However, he is aspsiring to qualify and represent the state of Georgia in the 2026 Special Olympics hosted in Minnesota. Dawn said Cole’s drive will help fuel his aspirations to compete on the national stage once again.

“His strong will and determination has made him successful throughout his life,” Dawn said. “I don’t doubt that Cole hopefully will one day be back in that arena again. Minnesota has the Special Olympics in 2026, and that’s his goal is to try and make the team again.”