BOK Disability Swim Club
Providing young swimmers with disabilities the opportunity to grow and reach their full potential, through training for and entering competitions.
The group was formed after three swimmers entered a learning disability specific event in Reading, and were very successful. This then encouraged more swimmers to have aspirations of becoming a competition swimmer, and since then the club has since gone from strength to strength. The club was initially set up for young people with a learning disability. However, as the club has progressed we now have a range of disabilities within the club.
We have five volunteer ASA qualified coaches/teachers, who support our team both through training and on poolside at events. All our swimmer have disabilities and as such need a high level of care and support. Parents and carers also make an important contribution to the success of the group and are totally committed and involved in management, support, attending courses, and generally being involved in any way they can. We are known on the Special Olympic circuit for our amazing support from the spectators galleries!!
We have a range of abilities within our group – we have two swimmers who may never progress from more than one event, but we also have two members who train with the GB Downs Syndrome Team and one member who is on the ASA Home Nation Talent Programme. We aim to provide the best possible training and opportunities for all our swimmers.
In 2014 we won the Huddersfield Examiner Sports Team of the Year which was a very proud moment for our members as it was the first time they had won anything as a Team. We are also conscious that there are few chances for young people with disabilities, to take part in competitive sport in our area, and we are proud that our club is able to give our members valuable opportunities to take part in regular exercise, and the experience of being part of a team.
We have also seen the benefits that competitive swimming can bring to an individual in terms of confidence and self-belief. The club is providing opportunities for social interaction provided by attending weekly training, and competitions and we have seen friendships formed with some of our young people meeting socially. This is really important as opportunities for social meeting are very difficult to find, and can otherwise leave young people feeling socially isolated.
How would this funding have an impact on your community?
We have an exciting opportunity coming in 2017, when 8 athletes and 2 coaches have been selected to represent Yorkshire and Humberside in the Special Olympic National Games in Sheffield. This is dependent on us being able to raise £4000 to cover the cost of sending our swimmers and coaches to the games. This will be an amazing experience for the swimmers, to attend a national competition which will be held over several days. They will also be living the athletes village without parental support which will develop life skills and independence, bringing them together to perform as a team and individually, whilst experiencing the highs and lows of competitive swimming.
Our coaches will be accompanying the athletes (taking time away from work) to provide support and ensure our swimmers enjoy the occasion, and perform to the best of their ability
Whilst the 8 swimmers are the main beneficiaries this will also help us increase the profile of the disability swimming club, and inspire our younger members of the team, as well as attracting new swimmers. We will also be actively pursuing press coverage and a local level and ensure that any sponsors are given the appropriate acknowledgement.
"“The unique opportunity to swim at the National Special Olympic Games in Sheffield will be amazing for these inspirational athletes. I have been involved in the club since the outset and enjoy every minute and it is immensely rewarding to see the efforts in training turn into successes at events. I am very proud to be part of this amazing team”.
Gemma Hill-Wood, Head Coach"