CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - About 7,000 athletes representing 177 countries are all heading to Los Angeles this week. That includes athletes from the Lowcountry who will represent Team USA in the Special Olympics World Games.
Kylie MacFarland of Mount Pleasant has been preparing for the World Games for months. Sailing coach Meta Frasch selected Kylie to join Team USA as the first ever Special Olympian sailor from South Carolina.
"It takes a lot of practice: doing it with a partner, doing it on the boat, trying to know when to turn and when not to turn," MacFarland said.
Kylie will sail with Ellinor Walters, a rising junior at the College of Charleston. The two have spent months training on the water and becoming a team.
"She helps me stay calm. When I get nervous she helps me stay calm and I enjoy her company a lot," MacFarland said.
Walters has been sailing for years and will be in the boat as MacFarland's Unified partner. Despite her experience, Walters knows the pressure is on when they get to Los Angeles.
"The pressure is definitely on for me. Kylie already has a medal so now it's my turn to step up to her level," Walters said.
MacFarland won a pair of medals at the 2011 World Games in Athens, Greece. That year, she competed in doubles tennis. She says she still loves tennis, but this summer she has been focused on the water.
Walters says they have been sailing two to three times a week in preparation for the World Games. A freak ankle injury in late May sidelined Walters for weeks, but the duo are ready to represent South Carolina and the USA.
The Opening Ceremonies are Saturday, July 25 and the sailing competition begins Monday, July 27.