Caleb Mead's goals are the same as the rest of his teammates on West Deptford's swimming and diving team: to get his times down, improve through the season and earn his varsity letter.
Unlike his teammates, Mead has one extra challenge between him and that varsity letter.
Though the disorder makes it difficult for the 17-year-old junior to interact with his teammates, it doesn't stop him from getting in the pool and competing.
"Swimming's the best," he said, a grin breaking across his face at the first mention of the sport. "I like being in the water."
Mead has gone from not being able to start off the blocks as a freshman to swimming the freestyle and breaststroke in both the medley relays and freestyle relays. In a meet against Haddon Heights Tuesday, Mead anchored one of the Eagles' 200 freestyle relay squads, and swam breaststroke in the medley relay.
Freestyle is his favorite, and he goes all-out in the pool, emerging breathless at the end of his races.
His father, William Mead, said the school district and Caleb's teammates have been supportive since the beginning.
"His teammates are great to him," William Mead said. "They take care of him, they cheer him on, they keep him out of trouble."
Caleb also gets help from Todd Wonderlin, a personal aide who helps coach him and works with him on interacting with his teammates, something his father is grateful for. Group sports are difficult for Caleb, but the individual aspect of swimming competition makes it easier for him, his father said.
Though he's tried other sports, including Miracle League baseball, nothing else holds the appeal of swimming. William Mead said the structure and discipline in-season helps his son, both in and out of school.
"I wish they had it year-round," he said.
William, who served in the Marine Corps, said it's easy to get Caleb to work out in the pool or at home during swimming season, but the rest of the year, Caleb's again much like his peers.
"He's much happier at home playing video games," William Mead said with a laugh.
Still, the two will head to Riverwinds to work out, or do calisthenics at home in the off-season, with that goal of improving and eventually earning that varsity jacket in mind.
"(Caleb's) worked really hard to get where he is," William Mead said. "I'm really proud of him."