Swimmers Celebrate at SportsAble Gala

The second in a new series of Para-Swimming Galas took place recently, organised by SportsAble volunteers Chris Humphris and Sharon Bridge and their team of helpers, officials and lifeguards.

This year’s events saw an increase in participation levels, bigger crowds and a VIP attendance from two GB Paralympians: 1984 Stoke Mandeville Paralympian John Jenkins MBE and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games’ gold medallist, Maidenhead’s Jeanette Chippington MBE. Both were delighted to be there to cheer on and congratulate all participants.

Held at Maidenhead’s Magnet Leisure Centre and Newlands Girls’ School respectively, the SportsAble Senior and Junior Swimming Galas saw 34 entrants of all ages and abilities taking part in a range of events that focused on individual achievements rather than race times.

People with Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, complications from Stokes and Visual Impairments (to name just a few of the challenges the SportsAble swimmers face) were brought together to demonstrate to their applauding friends and family the many targets reached and talents discovered.

Meaningful things like:  improved confidence levels, increased stamina, perfected stroke techniques and the ability to cover longer distances (something that the junior swimmers particularly work hard at!) were congratulated and certificates of achievement were presented to all.

Several people, such as Stefano Barussi, credit swimming for helping him to get his life back on track after a debilitating illness:

“Swimming has always been important for my recovery and where I was unable to regularly swim at the hospital, SportsAble has provided a safe and fun environment for me to become healthy again,” he says.

70-year-old amputee Ron Ottaway says joining SportsAble has provided some welcome structure into his life:

“Through my physiotherapy sessions I came across SportsAble. Since then I have not looked back. It has given me a real sense of purpose to get back into an active routine. The people are amazing and always friendly and helpful.”

Swimming is a low impact sport which makes it ideal for people with joint and mobility problems to keep active. There is a great social element to joining our sessions, too.  New members always welcome. Please email sportsdevelopmentofficers@sportsable.co.uk or call 01628 627 690 for more.

SportsAble swimmer Sam Lightowler enjoys meeting Paralympian Jeanette Chippington MBE