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INTERNATIONAL PARALYMPIC COMMITTEE

British swim club gives opportunity to all

While the Sharks Swimming Club may be a local group, it has produced Paralympians and allowed so many the chance to compete. 06 Apr 2014
Imagen
A picture of a man swimming

Swimming has become one of the premiere events of the Paralympic Games.

ⒸLieven Coudenys
By Sharks Swimming Club

Sharks liaised with local schools to encourage interested children to learn to swim and then compete and then teach swimming if they wanted to.

The Sharks Swimming Club was formed in 1982 when six men with a physical impairment wanted to train for swimming competition in Great Britain but found there was nothing that catered for them.

They hired their own lane at our National Sports Centre and started to train. Within two years, they had our first Paralympic medallists but they didn’t stop there. They made the training accessible to all impairments and included junior swimmers who also wanted to train.

Within two years they were producing local, national and international swimmers and the only criteria for joining was that they had an impairment and they wanted to compete.

Swimmers were not just competing but also gaining skills in teaching and coaching as they were mentoring their fellow sportsmen and women. Sharks encouraged and trained their swimmers not just to compete but to gain qualifications in teaching, coaching and sports leadership by gaining nationally recognised qualifications.

Sharks liaised with local schools to encourage interested children to learn to swim and then compete and then teach swimming if they wanted to.

A learn-to-swim section was started and a Sharks section was also started in a neighbouring borough in an able-bodied swimming club (Saxon Crown, Lewisham) trained by Sharks former swimmers and coaches. Realising that our intellectually impaired were not as well catered for a Special Olympics section was also formed.

Sharks is not just about producing champions, but it is also about giving an opportunity for everyone to enjoy swimming and to encourage others to gain the joy of sport in both competing and teaching. Thirty years on, it is still doing just that and those original six members are still good friends.

To mark the United Nations International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, the development arm of the IPC, the Agitos Foundation, is publishing stories where sport has helped to change lives or societies as part of the ChangeMakers campaign.

From 30 March until 13 April, stories will be posted on Paralympic.org and on the Agitos Foundation’s newly launched Facebook and Twitter pages.

Like or follow them to keep up to date with the latest news on the development of para-sport.