Luke's story

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Luke’s swimming journey has had its challenges but through sheer determination and perseverance he has reached Stage 6, consistently improving all the time, so much so that he has also joined our Rookie Lifeguard programme!

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We caught up with Luke’s mum, Clare, who gave us some information about Luke’s initial struggles with lessons and why it was worth the hard work and perseverance. 

“Luke was diagnosed with Global Developmental Delay and thanks to the 100,000 Genomes project at age 15 we finally had a diagnosis of HADD Syndrome. 

From a young age Luke struggled with muscle tone and had difficulty crawling and walking.  Luke had always loved the water and so at aged 6 we decided to enrol him in swimming lessons.  Luke is nonverbal, he can hear fine but is unable to talk so I was nervous as to how he was going to communicate with his swim teachers, what his concentration would be like and if he would disrupt/distract the rest of the class.  

The small pool at our centre was perfect as I could watch closely and not be too far away if needed.  As he went up the stages and moved to the bigger pool, I was allowed on pool side to help him communicate and focus his concentration when needed.  

The swim teachers were all fantastic and we all kind of adapted together to make it work for all of us, me included.  Luke is easily distracted and prefers being under the water to on top of it, the teachers don’t let this distract the class and carry on teaching regardless of what Luke is doing, I then relay the instructions to Luke once he has popped back up. 

The teachers always include him when asking for answers even though he can’t talk back, I interpret his signs for them, although they are getting familiar with his signs and often know what he is trying to communicate. 

Swimming has given him so much; improved his confidence, given him independence and improved his general fitness and flexibility. His swimming is not perfect, but he tries really hard in every lesson and continues to improve. We’ve had some amazing family holidays and Luke has been able to enjoy the pool and slides with his sister without me having to be in the water with him.  Luke may have additional needs but being part of an inclusive swim class allows him to learn from his peers around him.  He has even made friends.  My advice to others would be to share your fears, there is always a solution and why wouldn’t you want to give your child this opportunity to learn a really important life skill and have some fun in the process.”

We also asked Luke about his swimming and what he enjoyed about it.  

“I enjoy swimming and learning new things.  My favourite stroke is butterfly.  I have enjoyed learning new skills in Rookies and love diving to pick up the dummy from the bottom of the pool.  I also really enjoyed learning about how the pool worked and seeing the filters etc.  I have been able to enjoy the inflatables at the local lake and go canoeing with school.  I would like to say thank you to my swim teacher, Louise, she is great!"

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