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Like a fish to water . . . Oamaru swimmer Liam Bartley looks forward to representing New Zealand at the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. PHOTO: TYSON YOUNG

Liam Bartley has a big adventure ahead of him.

The Oamaru swimmer has been selected to represent New Zealand in the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games.

Bartley (21) said he was excited about the opportunity to compete in the event in Abu Dhabi from March 14 until March 21.

It was always a goal to compete at the highest level of the Special Olympics, he said.

His mother, Sharon, was proud her son would get to swim at the global event.

“I’m extremely proud,” she said.

“He swims, he dives for paua – anything to do with water, Liam’s there.

“This is something exciting and something good to focus on.”

To prepare for the games, Bartley will be training five nights a week with his fitness instructor.

Despite the months of rigorous training that lay ahead, the end result would be worth it, he said.

Bartley is the only swimmer from the South Island selected to compete at the games.

Originally from Australia, Bartley started swimming when he was 12.

Before he represented North Otago, he trained with the full Mid Canterbury squad when he lived in Ashburton.

While he did not yet know exactly which events he would contest in Abu Dhabi, Bartley hoped to compete in the butterfly and freestyle disciplines.

He has to raise funds to cover the expense of the trip, and a support crew consisting of family and friends will accompany him to the games.

Bartley said he wanted to thank friends, family and the rest of the community for supporting him.