Stingrays make strokes in swim gala

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Tadcaster Stingrays is continuing to grow, the swimmers skills are improving enormously, we have more members and we have a new and exciting development, writes columnist Jemima Browning.

Tadcaster Stingrays is a swim squad for young people with learning and physical disabilities. The group offers weekly training sessions so the swimmers can learn and develop swimming skills, meet new friends and belong to a team.

At Stingrays your disability is never focused on, instead we focus at each swimmers’ ambition and potential. We ask each swimmer what their goals are and help support them to make their goals a reality. We make the right reasonable adjustments to the training to make sure each swimmers needs are met whilst supporting them to grow and succeed.

For the third year in a row, Tadcaster Stingrays swimmers attended the Annual Special Olympics Yorkshire & Humberside Regional Swimming Gala at Harrogate Hydro Swimming Pool. At training all the swimmers have been focussed on this event. We have been working on making those slight changes to strokes, turns and starts to help make the most of their races. This year we had five swimmers attending the gala. Some swimmers had entered events they had never done before and everyone was so excited!

We arrived at the Hydro and what an atmosphere! The gala was busier than ever before. The teams all greeted each other warmly despite being from different places, training for different teams and competing against each other. The swimmers from Stingrays all gave each other a massive welcome and their team spirit was felt by all. They were so ready and focussed on the events to come.

It was the warm up first, the spectator area was already full and the swimmers were raring and ready to go. All the races took place and the event ran extremely well. The swimmers all swam with determinaton. In just a year their strokes have changed dramatically, and it was amazing to see. Stingrays screams and shouts of support could be heard all around the pool. Despite their own nerves, all the team members cheered on a fellow swimmer when they were racing.

At the end of the afternoon with 10 events competed in, Stingrays came home with several personal best times and two gold medals, three silver medals and three bronze medals in total. I was so proud of the swimmers achievements but mostly I was proud of how well they supported one another. You could really see the team spirit they all shared and how much they relished being part of a team.

I have been told by all my swimmers that they are so excited to take their medals back to their schools and show everyone. This is amazing for them to do, they can show everyone what they can achieve in the face of adversity.

Another exciting development at Tadcaster Stingrays is that two of our swimmers have begun training with Tadcaster Swim Squad, the mainstream club at Tadcaster Community Swimming Pool.

The two swimmers who were ready for more training hours have been training with this club as well as Stingrays for nearly two months now. Both swimmers have been warmly welcomed and all their fellow swimmers love training with them and chatting to them. This has been a massive step in further increasing the inclusion at Tadcaster Pool. Not only can the Stingrays Swimmers look up to the mainstream swimmers. Not only this but the mainstream swimmers can also look up to the Stingrays swimmers and see that they can achieve amazing things, just like they can.