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…