Congratulations Harrison!

Swimmer of the year 2022

After a challenging 2022 we wanted to round the year off with some good news stories. We asked all of our Swimming Teachers to nominate those distinctive, very special people who deserved a bit of recognition.

They were asked to identify swimmers and gymnasts on our lesson programmes (children and adults) who have displayed positive attitudes, unyielding determination or, have put in efforts over and above their peers.  They may have overcome personal adversity or achieved something unexpected or challenging. 

Harrison Barnes - Ferndown Leisure Centre's swimmer of the year 2022!

I am particularly proud to nominate Harrison for the Places Leisure Swimming Award because I have had the honour to be part of and see him overcome many personal challenges over the last 3 years.

In January 2022 at school Harrison made a Presentation about his ‘Journey’ in Swimming and how it has helped with his ‘Stammering’, his fitness and with his ‘Mental Health’ to his classmates.

In addition to this, Harrison helped save a child at the local seaside during the summer of 21.  His dad’s account states …… ‘Whilst at the seaside Harrison saw a child who had got into difficulties and was showing signs of distress in the water.  Without hesitation he calmly swam out to the child and towed him back to the beach. All this happened within seconds. He acted on his instinct and all his training (Rookies) to make a calculated safe and confident decision to rescue this child.’


Harrison started swimming from the age of 3 in 2015. In late 2019 Harrison joined my Stage 8 (aged 7). This is a 1 hour session, whereas Stage 7 was a 30 min session. I can recall that he was standing behind his mother looking nervous, very shy and reluctant to join the group.  I started the rest of the group off, which allowed us to have a private introduction to Harrison. I chatted to him and his mother about the class and what we were working towards and what he was seeing in the class. Harrison did not want to join in with swimming at this point, so I encouraged him to just watch, listen and asked him if he had any questions as there was no rush until he felt ready.

His mother took this opportunity to inform me of Harrisons lacked self-esteem, and self-confidence due to his stammer and found meeting new people, teachers and holding their attention when speaking a challenge.  After chatting about the different strengths of the group he saw a swimmer get out of the pool and start walking to the other end and then re-join the group to continue the swim.  I explained that this swimmer too was new to the group, and that it was OK for any swimmer to take a rest if needed. It showed me that they understood the effects of exercise had on their body and the importance of allowing their body to rest for it to get stronger over time.

Harrison’s mother expected him to just watch and not join in at all on his first week, so when I asked Harrison if he would like to join the group, and he said ‘Yes’ with a smile it came as a pleasant surprise to her as this was a first. At the end of the lesson, she came and thanked me for giving them both the time to stay, feel welcomed and no pressure to have to take part straight away.

Over time I have watched Harrison grow as an individual. He has become a popular person in the swim group and has made some close friendships.  I have introduced him to small tasks such as taking the register at the start of the session to help build his self-confidence about his stammering and holding others attention when speaking. He now actively asks, answers, and gives advice to others within the group.

In early 2022 Harrison passed his Stage 10 (aged 10) and joined our 1 hour ‘Fit & Fun’ session for those swimmers of all ages who have a love of the water and want to keep fit as well as still learn new skills. These sessions cover a Swim Fit section, and the Fun section covers Stroke Development, Water polo, Rookies, Synchro and Aqua Fit. Swimmers can also train/practice for their GCSC PE practical, Guides or Scouts badges, Duke of Edinburgh awards etc.

Other outside areas of personal growth that swimming has had a knock-on effect for Harrison is that he has moved to a new Scouts Group in a new area and is now participating in the ‘Junior Dukes Award’.  He has chosen 7/10 of the challenges and swimming as his physical challenge.

Well done Harrison!