The rain didn’t bother Special Olympic athletes on Saturday as they attended a social gathering at Saint Francis Xavier University in Antigonish.

More than 850 athletes and coaches turned out to the main event which included swimming at the university’saquatic centre.

“Everybody is always excited. That’s the whole idea. It’s have fun, have a good time and enjoy the water,” said swimming official Carla MacQuarrie.

The athletes enjoy the competition but it’s the social rewards that they come back every year for.

“Meet good friends and good people,” said 40-year participant Robert Burchell.

Despite the steady mist and light rain, the athletes hit the track and gave it their all. Officials say conditions would need to be much worse before cancelling the event.

“Our athletes are like any other. They're here to compete. It’s not like we can come back next weekend,” said Michael Greek with Special Olympics Nova Scotia. “They're here and they're going to make the best of it.”

Greek says many of the volunteers are inspired by the athletes.

“A lot of the volunteers that I've got a chance to talk to, they're surprised. They use the word inspired a lot. I think it's the true spirit of our athletes,” said Greek.

The excitement is now starting to grow for next year when the Canadian Special Olympics Summer Games will be held at the university.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Dan MacIntosh