Disability proves no barrier for Swimathon achievement

Swimming has given a disabled man from Canterbury the delight of achieving a personal goal when he successfully took part in the Swimathon Sports Relief Team Mile at Hartsdown Pool in Margate. 43 year old Andrew Warden has learning and physical disabilities and has always loved the water. Since becoming a resident at Avenues Trust Smock Acre care home in Canterbury, he has been supported by staff to enjoy swimming safely. Some of his carers made up the rest of the Swimathon team of five and provided support for Andrew in the water.

…nowadays having a severe disability such as Andrew has is not a barrier to being involved in sport. Swimming is Andrew’s main hobby and over the past four years has given him enormous benefits. By building up his physical strength, he is now swimming at least twice a week at Kings Mead Swimming Pool in Canterbury and Hartsdown Pool in Margate.

Lara Lill is Head of Health and Wellbeing at the ASA, the governing body for swimming and its associated disciplines in England.

“What a wonderful achievement this is – one of the great things about swimming is that it’s a fully inclusive activity for everyone to take part in. It’s a fantastic sport for adults and children with disabilities or special needs because the water is weight-bearing, which means it’s perfect for therapy and recovery. It’s already the favourite sport of many disabled adults like Andrew because it has amazing benefits with confidence-building and all the health and fitness aspects.”

Sarah Carberry, Acting House Manager at Avenues Smock Acre, said: “The Swimathon has been a great way of helping Andrew integrate into the community by participating in a local event with people he knows and surroundings he is familiar with. When Andrew finished his lengths I told him he had finished and pointed up to his mum telling him she was watching him, Andrew gave the biggest smile I’ve ever seen.”

“Andrew is now capable of swimming with very little support in the water and can swim between six and ten lengths of the pool. We are very pleased that Andrew has progressed so well with his swimming over the past few years. He has difficulty communicating but it was clear the first time he got in the pool that he enjoys swimming.

“Together with employees at the swimming pool, our Support Workers have worked with Andrew in the pool, encouraging him to swim independently. He is now well known at the local swimming pools who have all been very accommodating and supportive so it’s been really useful to raise awareness of disability in the community.”

Stella Warden, Andrew’s mum is also very pleased with the progress Andrew has made: “I am very happy and proud that Andrew was able to do the Swimathon. I was in tears as I watched him, it was such an achievement him just being part of it.”

Andrew’s sister Leslee Samuel had never seen him swim before she watched him take part: “It is enormously pleasing to see that nowadays having a severe disability such as Andrew has is not a barrier to being involved in sport or charity fundraising. Andrew loves to swim and I am sure he would be thrilled to realise he has raised several hundred pounds for charity by doing something he enjoys.”

Avenues provide a lot of support to disabled people across London, the South East and East Anglia, including a sport and active lifestyles project to get more disabled people active and regular supported swimming sessions for disabled people in Suffolk via Optua.

To get involved in swimming and find your nearest club use our Pool Finder – put in your postcode to find your local pool and ask about disability swimming lessons and clubs where you’ll find the right facilities with ASA qualified professionals. Read Andrew’s story on the swimming.org website…

Well Done Frank! Frank Skinner Makes a splash for sport relief

Frank Skinner has conquered his lifelong fear of water, by swimming 25 metres as part of his ‘Frank Skinner Dipping Challenge’ for Sport Relief.

The comedian put himself to the ultimate test, undergoing eight weeks of physical and psychological training to help him overcome his phobia to be able to take on the challenge. Entering the pool at Barnet Copthall Leisure Centre at 10:16am today, Frank was cheered on by a very supportive audience including Adrian Chiles, Clare Balding and Karen Pickering.

Halfway through the swim, Frank swallowed water and began to panic. He said: “Towards the end I had one of my little panics that I often have – but I could hear the crowd and I just thought ‘no, no, I can’t stop now’ and I kept going. I was half drowning, half choking -It was a good advert for terror!”

However, despite a tense start, Frank managed to complete the swim in his first attempt and was greeted at the sidelines by Karen and trainer, David Tatler, with a congratulatory hug.

Upon completing the challenge, Frank said: “I’m absolutely knocked out. I’m so relieved and excited. I lay in bed last night thinking about all the different ways I wouldn’t finish that length. I want someone to learn to swim because of this. I know it looked really tough and frightening but I’ve had a good laugh and it will stay with me forever.”


Read more on the Swimming.org website…

Watch Frank learning to swim on Youtube…

Frank Skinner completes his Dipping Challenge for Sport Relief 2012…

 

It’s not too late to do your bit for Sport Relief

Over a million people took to the streets on Sunday 25 March to run a mile for Sport Relief, but it’s not too late to do your bit, as in just a month’s time you can take part in the first ever swimming mile for Sport Relief too!

Raising money for Sport Relief – Simply sign up to take part in the Big Splash Mile for Sport Relief, taking place at 650 pools across the country from 27 to 29 April as part of the Swimathon Weekend. It’s your chance to do something amazing by raising funds for projects across the world’s poorest countries. The money you raise could provide swimming lessons to children in Bangladesh where 50 children die every day during the monsoon season. Read more on the Swimming.org website…

Sign up for the Big Splash Mile for Sport Relief as part of the It’s part of the Swimathon weekend which starts on 27th April 2012…

Bangladesh Sport Relief video on Youtube highlights the problem

Fifty children a day die due to drowning in Bangladesh. Help support a project which teaches children to swim, a valuable skill that saves lives. The money you donate to support Sport Relief will help people living unimaginably tough lives, both on your doorstep in the UK, and across the world’s poorest countries. Watch the Bangladesh Sport Relief video on Youtube…