Young swimmers from South Yorkshire shine at Sheffield championship

Young competitors in the Panathlon Northern Swimming Final
Young competitors in the Panathlon Northern Swimming Final

Young swimmers with disabilities and special needs made waves at a school championship held in Sheffield.

Pupils from nine schools across Lancashire, Teesside and Yorkshire took to the pool for the Panathlon Northern Swimming Final, having battled through regional qualifiers to earn their place.

Youngsters from the nine schools competing had earned their place by making it through regional qualifiers

Youngsters from the nine schools competing had earned their place by making it through regional qualifiers

Children with disabilities and special needs were among the competitors lining up at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre yesterday (Tuesday, June 6).

Park Community Academy, in Blackpool, took the overall crown, but Doncaster School for the Deaf finished fourth to take the South Yorkshire title.

It finished ahead of Sheffield's Rowan School, which came fifth; sixth-placed Heritage Park, also in Sheffield; and Barnsley's Greenacre School, in eighth place.

More than 10,000 children with disabilities and special needs compete in Panathlon's sporting events each year, giving them the opportunity to take part in competitive sport that they are so often denied elsewhere.

Teacher Rebecca Taylor, from Doncaster School for the Deaf, said the event had been 'wonderful' for the youngsters' self-esteem.

Megan Garwell, who teaches at Sheffield's Heritage Park School, for children with autism and behavioural problems, said her pupils 'loved' getting the chance to compete.

"Competing is a really good life skill for them. What they do struggle with is play. We had a big chat with them and said some people will lose today and some will win. Don’t get upset, just enjoy taking part," she said.

"Losing is a big life skill and I don’t think our guys will have experienced winning very much, so they’ll get a lot out of today."

Nine-year-old George Cranston, who attends the school, said: "Coming to this massive stadium made me feel nervous at first, then I felt happy. It was really fun when we did the raft race and had to collect the objects.

"It was good that we didn’t come last! I’m going to put my medal with my football and tennis medals when I get home."

Paralympic champion swimmer Liz Johnson, who is a Panathlon ambassador, said watching the competition had reminded her why she loves to swim.

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