Doncaster School for the Deaf youngsters claim county swimming title

Youngsters from Doncaster School for the Deaf take part in the U14 Panathlon Northern Swimming Finals. Photo: Anna Gowthorpe
Youngsters from Doncaster School for the Deaf take part in the U14 Panathlon Northern Swimming Finals. Photo: Anna Gowthorpe
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Doncaster School for the Deaf finished fourth in the Panathlon Northern Swimming Finals at Sheffield’s Ponds Forge.

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

Last Tuesday’s swimming final brought together nine schools from Lancashire, Teesside, North and South Yorkshire, who had all battled through regional qualifiers to get there.

Park Community Academy from Blackpool won the overall title but, in finishing fourth, Doncaster School for the Deaf won the South Yorkshire title, which was being run concurrently.

They scored 56 points across a variety of individual and team races, beating Sheffield’s Heritage Park and Rowan Schools, as well as Greenacre School from Barnsley.

Teacher Rebecca Taylor said: “Today has given the children such confidence and it’s wonderful for their self-esteem. This is their first time in a swimming gala and it gives them a brand new experience in an amazing place like this.

“We’ve done multisports and boccia Panathlons before, but this is their first time swimming and they have enjoyed it immensely.”

Pupil Seth Holmes, eight, said: “I’m going to hang my medal up above the fireplace. Panathlon makes me feel happy and excited!”

Emily Smith, eight, said: “I have enjoyed today 100%! I can’t wait to show my mum my medal and hang it up in my bedroom!”

Young Leaders who helped organise, officiate and encourage the pupils were provided by Northfields School in Stockton-on-Tees, as well as volunteers from Panathlon sponsors St James’s Place.

Also on hand was Paralympic swimming gold medallist and Panathlon Ambassador Liz Johnson. She said: “Ponds Forge is a special place for me. I first swam here when I was 12 years old, so it was really nice to see kids of the age I was then enjoying the venue.

“It was here that I became the first person in my classification to break the 100-second barrier for 100m breaststroke.

“To see the variety of children from all over the North of England embracing and enjoying today’s competition is a joy to behold and be a part of. It reminds me of why I love to swim.”