Swimming All Stars - Shay O'Grady

From swimming lessons to £45,000 fundraising

This story captured our hearts immediately and we just couldn’t wait to share it with you. It started out as a regular learn to swim journey and went on to be so much more!

Like most children, Shay started swimming lessons at Places Leisure when he was four years old. His Dad, Jason, felt it was important for all of his children to be able to swim and said, “It’s been brilliant for their confidence and is a really important life skill.”

Shay enjoys his lessons. He says, “Every lesson is different, and I enjoy it a lot. I like swimming widths and lengths and swimming on my back.”

Since learning to swim Shay has used his swimming skills to swim on holidays and really enjoys waterslides, who doesn’t!! And, when he’s older he’d love to try jet skis and those giant inflatable obstacle courses like in Ninja Warrior.

Sounding pretty normal so far, right? Not for this kid! This is where it gets special - Shay has been putting his swimming skills to exceedingly good use. This is what he told us:

“I fundraise for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice. They look after my cousin, Evie Mae, and help my Auntie Keeley and Uncle Adam. I’m so grateful for everything they do for Evie and her friends and family, so when I was five, I did a charity bike ride around our local park and raised £300. Then I did a walk and raised another £500. Then I did my first triathlon to Barnsley. Then I did another one to Derby and now I’m doing one to Bolton Wanderers in April. I’ve been swimming all year and I’ve got a few more lengths to do before I finish, I think it’s 250.”

Shay was pretty modest about his efforts, but his dad told us that since he started – about six to seven years ago - Shay has raised a whopping £45,000 for charity. That’s absolutely incredible, a true superstar! He also told us how proud he was of Shay saying, “Shay pushes himself, he’s not the best swimmer, but he’s never let that stop him and he always tries his best.”

In the future, Shay is hoping to run the London Marathon or walk up a big mountain to continue his fundraising efforts. We don’t doubt he will do it. To find out more about Bluebell Wood and donate to a great cause you can visit their website here https://www.bluebellwood.org/

You can follow Shay's efforts on facebook, twitter or instagram using the handle @shaystriathlon

If you are interested in finding out more about swimming lessons with Places Leisure, please complete our enquiry form below and our friendly swim team will be in touch.