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Swindon Disability Swim Links in full swing

The fourth Swindon Disability Swim Links session took place at Dorcan Leisure Centre in September.  Swim Links is a national programme initiated and managed by the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA), the governing body for swimming in theUK, and which aims to give more opportunity for young disabled swimmers to reach their potential.  The programme works by providing disability specific swimming sessions by linking local schools and community groups to a mainstream swimming club.  Swindon Dolphin were chosen to work with the South West Regional ASA to deliver Swim Links inSwindon, an area that has previously lagged behind other comparable towns and cities in its provision of disability swimming.  Swindon Dolphin Chief Coach Louise Clayton is delighted that the club have the opportunity to contribute to the growth of disability swimming in the town.  “We are very pleased to have been chosen to manage this initiative locally and we fully understand the responsibility it brings,” said Clayton.  “It is our goal not only to provide excellent swim sessions and future development opportunities, but also to make sure that everyone in the area who can benefit from these sessions knows what is available and are able to participate.”

The monthly Swim Links sessions have also received support from Swindon Borough Council’s Aiming High scheme and are led by coaches Andy Harris and Wendy Chandler supported by a team of volunteers.  Six children attended the initial session in May and that number has now more than doubled.  Those children have a wide variety of disabilities including cerebral palsy, ADHD, autism, dyspraxia, Asperger syndrome, microcephaly, Down’s syndrome and hearing problems. “The project has  gone from strength to strength with each session”, explained Harris.  “Swim Links has been able to give disabled children inSwindonwho are confident in water the opportunity to work with swimming teachers and coaches to improve their aquatic skills. As a project we are extremely happy that we have already seen two young swimmers join a club to enable them to train more often.”

Andy Harris and Wendy Chandler ~ Swindon Disability Swim Links Coaches

Lyndsey Hollands, the Playground to Podium Officer at the ASA is very pleased with the progress that has been made so far.  “The project is progressing incredibly well in Swindon and it’s great that local children and young people with a disability, of any ability, can have access swimming.  With the continued support from Swindon Dolphin, they have a pathway to higher achievement.”

The ASA’s Lyndsey Hollands ~ pleased with Swindon’s progress

Swim Links has been awarded the London 2012 Inspire mark, an award that recognises innovative and exceptional projects that were directly inspired by the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games.  Clayton is well aware of the high expectations that this brings, both within the ASA and amongst children and parents that will have seen the performances of local swimmers such as Aaron Moores and Stephanie Millward.  “The Paralympics not only generated massive interest in disability sport, but increased awareness of what disabled athletes can achieve.  We have a big part to play now in providing the means for all local children with disabilities who have an interest in swimming to develop to their maximum.  We have made a great start but we have so much more we can contribute.”


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