Tom's story

A sense of achievement

Tom has hemiplegic cerebral palsy that affects gross and fine motor skills such as sitting independently and grasping of objects, on his right side.  His left side is also affected but to a much lesser extent. Every daily activity is more challenging for Tom, so as you can imagine learning to swim seemed at first like a mammoth task!

Tom’s dad, Joe, talks us through their learn to swim journey and shows how perseverance can lead to a real sense of achievement.

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“Tom first started swimming lessons at the age of four.  We knew that swimming was a vital life skill, but we were very nervous that it would be too challenging for him, given swimming is a complex motor movement.  When Tom first started, he was very nervous, he would get very emotional and in certain early lessons, would make very little progress.  Our concerns were that swimming would affect his self-esteem by revealing how much more difficult it was for him over other children. 

But the teachers were all absolutely amazing at focussing on his confidence and wellbeing above everything else, which then meant he was in a better place mentally to attempt what was asked of him.  The teachers all were able to adapt certain tasks (sometimes in a very creative way) in a very discrete and empathetic way, such that Tom didn’t feel completely excluded from the able-bodied children, and able to achieve the goals set.  The teachers all have the special ability to set high standards for Tom, but a standard he can achieve.  They know when to push Tom to work harder or do better, but also when to praise after a success. 

Swimming lessons have been amazing for Tom’s confidence.  He can now do things in the water he never thought he would be able to.  It is also great for his core strength and coordination.  He is now having swimming lessons at school and it’s such a nice feeling for Tom that he can do something in his peer group without feeling like he’s different.  All children want to fit in with others and in the pool, he has that feeling.”

We also asked Tom about what he liked about his lessons, this is what he said

“What I love most about swimming is improving each time and being able to do something I couldn’t do before, like when I did front crawl using both arms.  The best thing I’ve learnt is not to be scared in the deep end.”  

If you are ready to make a start on your swimming lesson journey, enquire today and our friendly swim team will be in touch.

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